Great leadership starts with leading an organization of one
All leadership begins with “self-leadership.” Before any leader can aspire to lead a thriving enterprise they must first master leading an organization of one.
Tom and Susan are partners in the same firm and produce at a very high level. Over the past 5 years Susan has not only outpaced Tom, but many of her senior partners as well. What is most surprising about Susan’s performance is that her ascent to excellence was slow in coming, and Tom was very reluctant to open the doors of partnership to Susan after her lackluster performance during her initial years in the firm.
Out of curiosity Tom summoned the courage to investigate the root causes of Susan’s consistent growth. What Tom observed and discovered was that Susan had an incredible ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. She seemed to respond appropriately to the right opportunities, and dismiss the less relevant distractions. Tom concluded that his ascent in leadership was made possible by a hyper-reaction to random stimulus, and it had reached a level of unsustainability. Tom shared with his partners that Susan “leads herself with discipline and precision.”
What made an impression for Tom were the practices Susan engaged in to help her have a sense of what needed to be done. In order to accomplish what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the leader engages in certain practices or disciplines to produce that result when required. Self-leadership employs intentional action in advance to ensure the right action happens when necessary.
Although some people are more naturally disciplined than others, for those that struggle with being disciplined, you can create the structures that promote greater “professional will.” To help you get started, consider the following 5 disciplines of self-leadership. To engage in these practices will accelerate your effectiveness and prepare you to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
The most basic expression of self-discipline is controlling your time in such a way that you are focused on your “highest and best” use. The effectiveness of leaders is limited by allowing others to set too much of the agenda and your time is spent on the trails of rabbits. There is a wealth of material available to assist with time management, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. However, there are some practices you can intentionally engage in that will promote a greater ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
- Time Blocking: Predetermine blocks of time allocated for your most important activities
- Landing the Plane: Do not allow meetings and conversations to extend beyond the appropriate time limit
- Time Cop: Give your assistant or colleague some authority to assist you in executing your calendar
- Power Sprints: Protect 1 hour blocks of uninterrupted time to execute your most complex work