Powell provided three practical suggestions to leaders to make sure their leadership is intentional and effective.
1. Don’t allow yourself or your leadership to exist on autopilot.
A leader needs to be alert to the mission and vision of the organization and should be constantly evaluating the effectiveness of the organization in meeting this mission. Sometimes it can be easy to get into a coast mode – going through the motions – as one leads an organization that has a cyclical nature to it. In my case, I have to do things repeatedly to make sure we close out our fiscal months, fiscal quarters, and fiscal years appropriately. This is a good reminder to stay focused on the mission of the organization.
2. Continually re-evaluate your leadership priorities.
What is consuming my time? Is it important to achieving the mission of the organization? Is it more or less important than other things that I could or should be doing? A leader must constantly evaluate how their time is spent. Am I making the most of every opportunity to be an effective leader? For me, it has become important to make sure I’m not allowing my employees to shirk responsibility or to avoid making decisions that are appropriate to their level of responsibility. It sometimes seems easier just to handle things myself, but I need to make sure I continue to empower my employees so that I can stay focused on some of the bigger picture things.
3. Be willing to pull the plug on any investment you’re making that’s not advancing the organization’s mission.
This one is tough for me, because I’ve had the plug pulled on me, and it hurts – big time! Does what we’re doing really make sense for achieving our mission? This requires flexibility and confidence. This also requires a clear focus on the mission of the organization (go back to step 1). As a leader, this is an important step, but I think it’s also important to make sure that those impacted by the decision to pull the plug are effectively embraced and redirected towards things that help to advance the organization’s mission. To pull the plug on someone and to fail to nurture and redirect someone towards the mission can be a leadership failure as well.
I know that Powell’s article was meant for church leadership, but I think it also applies to the business world and leadership of other types of organizations. I appreciate these types of reminders and challenges.