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A good leader knows 'the most important thing' - but how do they work it out?

I was with a group of business owners recently at which the seminar leader told us something I thought was profoundly helpful: You, as leaders, need to know what the most important thing is and why. 

I don’t think there’s any doubt that to be a good leader, in business or elsewhere, you need to know what the priorities are—not just for you but also for your team. Unfortunately, figuring out the most important thing isn’t so obvious. It’s different from business to business, and it changes depending on the season you’re in. Are you in a season of growth, or consolidation, or introducing new products, or embedding new clients or team members? 

The most important thing is not only going to vary, it’s also going to be personal. So it’s really important to know how to figure it out. 

I’ve been racking my brain since the seminar to come up with a process that could work no matter what your business is, or what season you are in. I’ve settled on the following three key questions that we need to ask ourselves, as leaders: 

1. Have I clearly identified the things only I can do? 

When evaluating what the most important thing is, the first step I need to take is to identify which tasks only I can do, and which I can delegate. For example, as a leader, only I can talk to the bank about funding, but what are the tasks I’m doing that someone else could do? 

2. Does it develop the team? 

When you delegate well, and develop the team so that the team is better equipped to produce, you get a better return. That’s just common sense. Alone, you might have 40 productive hours in a week. Two people can produce for 60 hours, and so on. The ‘most important thing’ to you, as a leader, should develop the people you’re leading. 

3. Is it helping the team stay on course? 

As a person who sails, I know the value of setting the course from the beginning. But I also know the value of changing course when there’s a great rock in the way. As a leader, do you know what course you’re charting and are you ready for the obstacles that might stand in your way? 

Identifying your most important thing demands some reflection. There’s so much stuff you could be doing, but are they priorities? Do they benefit the people who are following your lead? And are they taking you in the right direction? 

Give me a call if you need help figuring out those questions. 


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