“Our greatest fear should not be of failure…but of succeeding at things…that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
Last week in this space the topic was productivity from the standpoint of being productive doing the right stuff. I try not to write about the same topic week after week, but this keeps coming up. Leader after leader that I work with on a daily basis is busy as can be, and yet they’re not getting the things done that really matter.
I know that some of the problem is time management. Certainly there are things that leaders are doing that aren’t efficient, or even necessary. We all could find some extra time every day if we really worked at it.
Unfortunately, even when we find that extra time, we just fill it in with similar stuff. Our routine is to work on stuff that’s urgent, even if it’s not really that crucial. The result is that the stuff that really matters – the future, relationships, change, etc. – gets pushed to the side.
There’s no easy answer, but one thing that clearly has helped some leaders get to that crucial stuff is accountability. It’s easy to ignore things when nobody really calls you out for it. It’s much harder when someone you respect keeps reminding you that you’re not doing what you said you’d do.
Who holds you accountable? Finding accountability as a leader can be really difficult. Internally, it can be a challenge to find someone who’s willing to be open and honest with you about the fact that you’re not taking care of critical things. Leaders who have a person, or several people, internally who are willing to do that are very fortunate.
If you don’t have that internally, where externally can you find it? Think about connections you have either in your industry or your community. Is there somebody there you trust? Someone who cares enough to want to help?
What about a coach? Sometimes a complete outsider can provide great accountability, partly because they have no pre-conceived ideas about you or your organization. All they know is if you’re doing what you say. Is there somebody like that out there?
We think about accountability in a lot of different ways, but think about it in terms of making sure you’re focused on what matters. Think about the impact that would have on you and your business. Who can help you get to the stuff that really counts?