Part of what I teach people is to think strategically about everything in order to get the best results. That said, we still must prioritize where to spend our time. This also takes strategy. Thankfully, I‘ve worked with hundreds of companies and found some common themes that help companies get to the next level.
As a leader, you obviously have strategic clarity (or should) about the desired outcome of growing your business. I want to share about raising your level of thinking in four areas that could help you have a powerful impact on that outcome for your organization.
These four areas are…
- High Leverage Activities (HLAs)
Think about the tools you currently have…
- Are they outdated?
- Are they the best tools you can create?
- Is your team excited to use them?
- Are they easy to access (or just the opposite)?
In my experience, many people at the top don’t think at the strategic level they could when it comes to maximizing their company’s tools to attain efficiency and effectiveness. In all the work I’ve done with company executives, a big struggle I hear about is that their team desires a system, but these systems aren’t set in place. It’s one of those tasks that gets put on the backburner … for months, maybe even years. So time is being wasted until these systems are created.
There is probably a tool that could help you create that system, which would save you and your team time, help your company get more done and also build employee morale because their job just got easier.
This is one of those things that should probably be on your High Leverage Activities (HLAs) list (more on this concept below).
You may need to strategically think about your tool effectiveness.
- Are there any tools you should add to help you create a system?
- Do you have any tools that aren’t working well?
- Are there some tools that need to be updated or tossed out?
Are you thinking strategically about training your team to listen? That’s right. It’s frequently overlooked. We often think about what we’re going to push out—this product benefit, this success story or this new website—and yet a big piece of the puzzle in the world of building relationships (which is part of any business) is being strategic about listening.
Here’s what that could look like for your company. You’re teaching your team that when they’re talking to a potential or current customer, they’re listening intently and even taking a few notes as they’re talking to the prospect, so they can better communicate back to the potential or current customer what they are needing.
This is what listening to a person achieves:
- Listening makes people feel they’ve been heard (people want to feel heard, and the better your notes, the better your impact)
- Listening helps you know if your product/service applies to them (people want to know your product/service applies to their world)
- Listening helps you cater your communication (people want what they want, they want to know why your product will solve their need, if you can get the information they need on time, make sure the benefits you refer to are related to their values, goals, and priorities).
So, teach your team to listen! And this goes for you, too. You need to intentionally listen to your team, even if that means taking notes. Lead by example.
A big piece of the puzzle in the world of building relationships is being strategic about listening.”
Many executives I work with come up with spectacular ideas, from promotions to new products to employee retention strategies. In the midst of their excitement about their specalur idea, they forget to plan how to cascade (pass information down to other levels) this information to the rest of their company … to gain buy in and maintain momentum.
I had a group in the other day that was planning a convention. One of the specific things we talked about was how to prepare before an event what they wanted to happen immediately after this event. What were their follow-up items going to be? So before the event even started, we created a game plan for how they were going to communicate all of this new information (that was going to be first introduced at their convention) to the rest of the company within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the event ended.
When you strategically think through how to cascade your new ideas, you get a much higher level of impact because your follow-up communication isn’t rushed or sloppily done.
High Leverage Activities (HLAs)
So many people and so many companies fail to super-charge because of poor prioritization at all levels. High Leverage Activities (HLAs) are the cure for time and resource waste.
No single skill or habit has a more powerful impact on results than the ability to eliminate distractions and focus on the HLAs that have the greatest potential to advance your strategic goals and objectives.
Every journey has its starting point; and your journey to your organizational vision begins with:
- Clarity of what you want
- Understanding time and leverage
We all have the same amount of time, and in essence, we can only find more time for one activity by taking it from some other activity.
So how do you know how to budget your time? You use an “organizing principle” that assigns a value to time. I believe the single most powerful organizing principle is maximizing leverage by prioritizing action according to which actions are highly leveraged (produce extraordinary results faster) and which actions are low leverage.
In order to determine leverage, you have to have a North Star to guide you—a crystal-clear values-based vision of what you want to achieve. With a constant vision to guide your efforts and the organizational principle of high leverage, you are on the road to success.
Once you have a clear vision, you can begin to set realistic goals. Every goal carries a “to-do” list required to achieve the goal, which can get pretty long and complex very quickly, even in small organizations.
When looking at the concept of High Leverage Activities, you must determine which tasks will move you toward your goals, which are the building blocks of your vision, with the resources you have. To some degree, all organizations have limited time, money, and talent. The ultimate plan is figuring out where to put those resources to drive the results you need to reach your goals.
Once you discover your own HLAs, you can teach this lesson to the rest of your team.
- Think strategically about the tools you create to ensure they are up-to-date, easily accessible to your team, and of course, really easy to use. (Do they pass the Steve Jobs test of being intuitive—so intuitive they need little or no instruction?)
- Teaching your team to listen strategically and communicate accordingly is a big piece of the puzzle in building relationships and growing your business.
- Before launching a new idea, think strategically about how to cascade the necessary information to the rest of your team so you can promote immediate buy-in and take advantage of your momentum.
- Since no single skill or habit has a more powerful impact on results than the ability to eliminate distractions (Low Leverage Activities) and focus on your High Leverage Activities, passing on this concept to your team could have a huge effect on your entire organization.