By Michael Holland

I love the look of that frantic leader who is lost in the world of overbooked meetings, a flooded inbox with hundreds of emails, and employees frustratingly lined up at the boss’ door to ask questions.  It’s that scene in a movie where you don’t want to watch the dramatic climax but you just can’t divert your eyes.  So maybe “love” isn’t the right word necessarily; I surely don’t “love” to watch people fail but I am intrigued with how they handle the dramatic climax in their daily/weekly grind of managing.

My coaching to this leader would be to become an intentional leader who owns his day.  The whirlwind will always be there with too many things to get done.  Being intentional to own your day gives you that bit of control that will allow you to not only survive but to actually move forward.  Here are three ways to own your day and be an intentional leader.

  • Be Proactive Not Reactive – Every afternoon in the last minutes of your day, take a deep breath and think about the 2 or 3 things that are critical for you to accomplish in the next day.  Next, write them down on a separate piece of paper.  The items you’re writing down should not be large projects but specific tasks that are the most important and must be accomplished before you can leave work that day:
    • call so and so
    • complete email response to so and so
    • get 3 minutes with employee so and so
    • prepare my key points for that important meeting
  • Know Your Prime Directive – What is your prime directive for your team this day, this week, this season.  Focusing on your prime directive will help you to see past the whirlwind allowing you to direct your team’s energy and production towards the goal at hand.  You need to know your destination so that you can guide your employee to that destination.
  • Maximize Your Time – Find and lock-in 7 minutes on your calendar each day.  Yup, just 7 minutes.  Your calendar is your calendar, not your boss’ or that project manager’s or that HR generalist’s.  Sure, you have to work collaboratively but you must be ruthless in knowing which meetings you do not need to be in and/or how to cut meeting times to less time whenever possible.  Leaders who lead well create a small window of time that is completely theirs and and then they maximize that time to think as a leader. What am I doing?  Where am I going?  What is the best use of my time?  What am I missing? (see more on being more productive)

The whirlwind will always be there.  Being an intentional leader is about creating the habits that allow you to find margin and then invest that margin in key leading well activities.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • You suddenly find yourself walking with the CEO of your company and she asks what your team is working on.  What would you say?  Would your response astound her and make her extremely proud of you/your team because you know where you’re going?
  • Grab a peer manager and ask them if they would allow you to leverage them as an Top 2 Accountability Partner for 2 weeks.  At the end of every day you will text them the 2 items you’ve written down that you must accomplish the next day. They have one response to provide to you, “okay, got it.”