It has been said that management insists on doing things right and leadership insists on doing the right things. While not a fully accurate or helpful statement, as it paints a false dichotomy between leadership and management, it is a common cliché for a reason: We can waste incredible amounts of time doing things right while failing to do the right things. Peter Drucker famously said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
While leaders are often held accountable, as they should be, for how they spend other people’s money, leaders also spend other people’s time. Every decision, every meeting, every new direction requires time and energy from the people leaders lead. Leaders steward an incredible amount of other people’s time and energy. When leaders prioritize well, they serve the people they lead well as their time and energy is stewarded with wisdom. When leaders fail to prioritize well, they waste other people’s time, not merely their own. Here are three reasons leaders must excel at prioritization.
1. Opportunities are increasing
Prioritization is necessary because leaders run out of time and money before they run out of ideas and opportunities. Leaders typically face an onslaught of advice and ideas from others, so it is critical to know what is most important to tackle today.
2. And so are problems
If a leader does not set priorities, the pressures of today and the problems that fill an inbox will dominate every day’s agenda.
3. While our time is decreasing
We have less time today than we did yesterday. For this reason, the apostle Paul challenged believers to “pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).