How quickly can you and the top members of your team give a consistent response to this question:
What are the top three priorities for this quarter and this year?
When I ask this question, I often get a long silence and then a recitation of seven to fifteen responses from the leader I’m talking to. When I talk to the leaders direct reports, the amazing thing is how rarely these lists are consistent. More significantly, when I ask what the top three are, is when the confusion really begins.
When you and your senior team are unclear about your #1, #2 and #3 priorities, what do you think is happening to the rest of the people in your organization – and to your own personal focus?
Without absolute clarity about your top priorities, you begin the process of scattering your attention, diverting your focus, and limiting your impact on what is most important.
The net result of this is often a lot of activity that lacks a commensurate level of impact, value, and results. It is one of the biggest plagues of productivity that lack of priorities produces overwhelm, long hours, and a sense of frustration.
What we all really want is clarity about what is most important, the ability to deliver meaningful and valuable results, and the fulfillment from knowing we are making a meaningful difference.
Too many priorities, in reality, means a lack of clarity about what the real priorities are.