The Importance of Leadership

If you’re an Authentic Leader then you know that leadership is about people. You understand that things are managed and people are led. 

 

Not all managers are also tasked with leading people but nearly all, or more likely absolutely all, leaders are also tasked with some management responsibility. 

 

And that’s a problem. 

 

It’s a problem because the management “stuff” almost always comes with deadlines. Quarter end, year-end inventory, budget preparation for the upcoming year, planning, bill paying, payroll, you name it, when it comes to managing it HAS to be done and it has to be done on time.

 

But leading seldom has deadlines. You’ll always have people and it is easy to let people wait. You can always recognize somebody later. “Someday” is the perfect time to coach or mentor a rising star in your organization. There’s always tomorrow in the world of leadership but I challenge you to find later, someday or tomorrow on your calendar. 

 

Virtually every leader I’ve ever asked has told me that their people are their greatest asset but follow them around for a week and you would be certain that statement was false. You’d be certain it was false because all the management stuff seems to be a priority while the leadership responsibilities and activities all seem to be optional.

 

The fact is the management stuff is urgent while the leadership behavior is merely important and in the fast-paced, competitive environment where most of us work urgent almost always trumps important.

 

But here’s the thing, the best, most effective leaders don’t let the urgent win. They literally schedule leadership activities in their calendar. They set aside time to interact with their people. They block out time on their calendars to get out from behind their desks and go into the workplace where their people are. They make it a point to provide frequent and meaningful recognition.

 

Authentic Leaders know that you can’t lead people without being involved and interacting with them. They understand that you can’t lead people you don’t care about and you can’t show you care about them until you know them.  


Be an Authentic Leader. Never let the urgent “things” overtake the absolute importance of truly leading the people who are ultimately responsible for your success and the success of your organization. 

The Difference Between Urgent and Important

In my last post I discussed the fact that leaders understand the difference between need to do and nice to do activities.

Effective leaders also understand the huge difference between what’s merely urgent and what’s truly important. Those urgent things are frequently less productive, and often matter far less, than the important things. 

President Eisenhower said, “The urgent is seldom important and the important is seldom urgent.” That statement led Charles Hummel to publish a small booklet in the 1960’s entitled, The Tyranny of the Urgent

In it, he described the tension that exists between the urgent and important things in life and the fact that far too often, the urgent wins. Sometimes the urgent things are also important but very often they are not.

So what about you? Are you running around doing urgent things all day or are the things you do truly important? If you’re like most people, yes sadly most people get caught in the trap of urgency, you’re in such a rush to “get it done” that you don’t really stop to separate, or prioritize the urgent things from the important things. 

What’s more important, a conversation about school, life or their choice of friends with your kids or an empty email inbox? The emails may be urgent but the kids are important, for most of us, our kids are by far the most important aspect of our lives. Yet we stay at the office that extra hour to try and “get through a few more emails” while our kids, those incredibly, unbelievably, positively, absolutely important kids are waiting at home. 

If that happens to you then you are a victim of the tyranny of the urgent. 

If that happens to you then I’ll also bet you just use that always popular time excuse. You think that saying “I just don’t have the time” let’s you off the hook. You’re not responsible, it’s not your fault, it’s just “stuff” getting in the way of you doing what’s really important. 

Wrong! 

You’re not going to like hearing this but the fact is, you don’t suffer from a lack of time, you suffer from a lack of prioritization skills. Or, you just never slow down enough to truly prioritize. The challenge for many of us is that we just don’t often invest the time to consider what really matters to us, we just rush through life doing what’s put in front of us without considering what’s left behind.

I understand that you likely can’t get everything done that you would like to; that’s just a fact of life in the world in which most of us live. But that’s not an excuse for not prioritizing, it’s the very reason you should. 

At some point you’re just going to have to stop the madness, shut down the distractions and make yourself ignore the “urgent” stuff long enough to truly consider what’s important in your life. Just stop once in a while to determine if you’re running your life or if your life is running you. 

You may not be able to get it all done but you sure as heck can get the truly important stuff done, you just have to be aware of what’s really important in your life.