Leadership, Personal Development, The Leader

10 Ways To Develop Leadership Confidence

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Summary

You’re not alone if you lack even a little leadership confidence.  A lack of leadership confidence is very common and is nothing to worry about or be concerned with. However, you do need to develop higher confidence to become a high performing leader. 

There are steps you can take to increase your confidence quickly.  A lack of leadership confidence shouldn’t be a surprise either, as few leaders receive leadership development before taking on new leadership roles, and their senior level leaders often do not have the bandwidth or don’t make the time to coach and mentor them to the required level. 

Here are 10 ways to develop your leadership confidence (click on any method to get more information about it):

  1. Active & Healthy Professional Network
  2. Get a leadership coach
  3. Accept ambiguity in decision making
  4. Open vs closed door decisions
  5. Make values based decisions
  6. Ask for forgiveness, not permission
  7. Failure is an option
  8. Be the leader you wish you had
  9. Project confidence
  10. Celebrate wins

Prioritize based on your biggest opportunities and take on only one or two at a time. Add new ones as you become proficient in the prioritized areas. You are likely to notice a change in your confidence very quickly.


10 Ways To Develop Leadership Confidence – Full Article

Is Leadership Confidence a Concern?

In our article “Concerned?  Is there a leadership development crisis?”, we discussed how 77%* of organizations report that leadership within their teams is lacking and that only 5%* of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels!  Understanding this, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that many new or less experienced leaders lack leadership confidence. 

77% of organizations report that leadership within their teams is lacking and that only 5% of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels!

From our direct engagement with leaders through our leadership development programs, coaching, and on-site client projects, we have seen an increasing trend of leaders lacking confidence in their approach, response to team member issues, or their own decision making.  These leaders exhibit high concern levels of making mistakes and seek assurance that they have done the right thing.  The biggest risks we see are in matters that touch upon legal, legislation, and precedence setting.

There is good news here, too, though.  We also see that, for the most part, these leaders are definitely on the right track.  Rarely do we hear of situations or examples where they have made a mistake and never where they have made irreversible ones.   Their asking for feedback also shows their maturity and desire to be the best leaders they can be.  Although there is a reason for some concern, we can work with this!

It’s not you; it’s us

So what might be driving this?  Have new, less experienced leaders always lacked confidence?

Yes, I believe so!  Making the jump from an individual contributor to leading others has always been a challenge when leading for the first time.  However, I think it is more difficult for leaders today to get the help and support they need.  I propose that the leadership development gap that exists in most organizations today may be driving this increasing trend we are seeing.  Many leaders receive virtually no leadership development prior to taking on a leadership role but also have less exposure in the form of coaching, observation, and feedback from experienced leaders.  Working remotely through COVID also didn’t help in these areas!  There is also a lower tolerance in the leaders themselves for making mistakes.  They hold themselves to a very high bar.

If you are a leader that lacks leadership confidence, be assured that it’s not you; it’s us!  Us in the sense of your organization and experienced leaders who, for various reasons, do not provide the coaching and mentoring you need.  Several things distract and detract experienced leaders from providing access and time for new leaders, some legitimate challenges, others not so much.  However, we won’t get into those here.  Also, know that although you may think only you feel this way, you are not alone. 

10 Ways To Develop Your Leadership Confidence

1  Active & Healthy Professional Network

Often people consider a professional network as a way to find their next job opportunity.  If this is you, you are missing so much!  Having an active and healthy network is a must for any leader at all levels.  This network and the resulting relationships can be used to share best practices, obtain input and feedback, bounce ideas off, and learn from each other.  An active professional network takes time and energy.  It should be built before ever seeking new opportunities.

Active means that you spend some time growing and nurturing your network.  This does not include accepting any and all requests to connect on LinkedIn.  It means maintaining and developing new professional contacts via LinkedIn, periodic 1:1s within your organization, lunches or dinners with past colleagues, and socializing at community or external business functions. 

A healthy network flows both to and away from you, where you regularly support others, and they support you.   You need to make the effort to respond and spend time with those in your network to help and support them when they need it.  As well as not hesitate to reach out and ask them for support or assistance you could use.  This is a form of mutual respect and is very rewarding.  Your experience potential is greatly magnified as you have much more experience at your fingertips.  Not only will you benefit from this experience, but your confidence will go up once you see that you have great experiences and that others have similar challenges.

Return to Summary

2  Get a Leadership Coach

When taking up a new sport, we wouldn’t think of not getting some form of coaching.  So why do we think we can get a leadership position and not benefit from having a coach?

Good coaching helps us learn quicker, determine the best ways of doing things, and challenge us to do more than we think we are capable of achieving.  A coach does not tell us what we should do or how to do it but rather helps us solve our own challenges by asking probing questions and supporting us along the way.  Coaches provide a safe environment to share your insecurities and admit your challenges and self-doubt.  Having a coach can be a great confidence booster as they help you figure things out yourself.

Return to Summary

3  Accept ambiguity in decision making

Typically, there is no right or wrong answer when making decisions. There are bad, better, and good decisions, but not right or wrong. A leader needs to gather the data or facts, solicit input and opinions, and make informed decisions in real time. Not making, excessive debate, or extended delays in making decisions are usually regrettable. We need to make informed decisions with the best information we have at the time and accept that there is always ambiguity in decision making.

Return to Summary

4  Open vs closed door decisions

At Amazon, we were taught that there are open and closed door decisions.  This was a concept to help leaders make faster decisions and to differentiate that all decisions are not the same and therefore require different levels of consideration in the decision making process.

Open door decisions are those that, once made (you walk through the decision door) can be reversed or changed without any significant difficulty or long term impact.  In other words, the door remains open, and you can walk back through it again. 

Closed door decisions are those that, once made, cannot be reversed or changed without significant difficulty or long lasting impact.

So then with open door decisions, you can make faster decisions and take more risks with ambiguity.  For closed door decisions, you want to be more thorough, involve more stakeholders, conduct trials/pilots, check data/fact, gather more input, and conduct risk assessments, to mention a few.  At the same time, recognize there remains some ambiguity.   

Return to Summary

5  Make values based decisions

Decisions that align or are based on your and your organization’s values are generally good decisions. This is not to say they are easy. Quite the opposite, actually. Often in these types of situations, there are equal but opposite forces at work that can make the decision process very painful. Staying true to values usually proves beneficial when considering and thinking long term. Decisions that go against your values often consider the immediate or short term and can lead to ethical, legal, and cultural impacts on you as the leader and the organization, not to mention a loss of trust and respect.

Return to Summary

6  Ask for forgiveness, not permission

It may not be at a conscious level, but when we ask for permission, it lowers our confidence.  What if the person doesn’t agree?  What will they think of me?  What will I do if they don’t agree? 

Sure, a little bit of security comes with asking permission as you relieve yourself of some of the accountability.  However, long term and continual seeking of permission reduces your ability to make your own decisions and, frankly, does not reflect well on you as a leader.  Senior leaders want and expect the leaders below them to make their own decisions.

Return to Summary

7  Failure is an option

Yes, failure is an option.  Don’t be so afraid of making a mistake that you don’t make a decision or get into the habit of second guessing yourself. 

We must accept that we won’t get it right or perfect every time.  That’s what we mean here by failure.  However, we seldom really fail, either.   As long as we make the best decisions with the information available and learn from any mistakes, it’s not a failure!  So, get over yourself and your fear of failure!  Very few “mistakes” are really failures.  Learn and move on.

The only critical failure is if someone gets hurt (or worse) or it’s a closed door decision that goes badly.  There are not that many closed door decisions to be made for most leaders, and you’ll handle them a little differently when you do have to make them, as described in point number 4 above.

Return to Summary

8  Be the leader you wish you had

This is a great Simon Sinek quote. If you’re struggling with a decision or situation involving your team or a team member, think of this quote, “Be the leader you wish you had.” How would you wish or expect your leader to handle it if you weren’t the leader and were on the other side of a situation? That’s probably the best option! This is applicable to how you may handle situations, decisions to make, or actions to take or not take. It’s a simple but effective way to help you think through different situations.

Return to Summary

9  Project confidence

First, we’re not advocating becoming arrogant and strutting around as though you know everything.  What this means is don’t be a self-doubter.  People can sense it, which can impact your reputation, but more so, it again lowers your self-esteem over time.  

When I was leading a large and company wide project of significance, I had developed a habit of openly sharing all the problems we were facing in the project at the expense of not mentioning what was going well.  I intended to be transparent and expected everything to go as planned, which clearly wasn’t.  One day a senior leader asked me how things were going.  I quickly rhymed off multiple problems I was dealing with.  She then asked me if any of the issues were beyond my ability to resolve.  I assured her that I was very capable of taking care of them.  At that point, she gave me some advice I have practiced ever since.  She told me that it was my job to resolve any issues that arose and that I was expected to do so.  I should, without hesitation, escalate if there were any I needed help with.  However, telling everyone about every problem that was being experienced would erode the confidence in the project and in me as the leader of it.  What I should do was celebrate the wins and manage the misses unless I needed help.  Just by doing this, my confidence increased dramatically, as I’m sure the confidence others had in me did as well.

Return to Summary

10  Celebrate wins

Make the effort to recognize and celebrate YOUR wins. I’m not necessarily referring to your team’s wins, although I’m not excluding them. It’s important to frequently reflect on your personal wins and determine what you did that led to a successful outcome. These are the things you want to repeat or perhaps double down on the next time. Also, reflecting on the wins may highlight that you have done some good things you may otherwise have overlooked, building your leadership confidence.

Return to Summary

Don’t start working on all 10 of these confidence boosters simultaneously.  Review them and prioritize based on where you have the biggest opportunities.  Tackle one or two at a time.  Review your progress at least weekly for what’s working or not working, adjust your actions accordingly, and recognize your progress.  As you become proficient in one of the boosters, take on another.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly your confidence increases.  Don’t forget to enjoy and have fun along the way!

Leave a comment on what ways you use or have used to develop your leadership confidence!

* 25 Surprising Leadership Statistics (2022)

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Leadership, Personal Development, Uncategorized

Concerned? Is there a Leadership Development Crisis?

Summary

Leadership development is not just about taking a course or reading the latest business book.  Although they are essential components of leadership development, more is needed to result in a better return on investment and a more sustained impact for the leader.  Effective leadership development combines concept learning opportunities with immediate application in the real world, integrated with internal mentoring to align expectations and build organizational culture and coaching to develop leader confidence quickly.

Should you be concerned about leadership development? Yes, from at least two points of view. First, is leadership development a priority in your organization or just when there is time? Second, is there a structured and integrated leadership development approach and methodology, or is it a free for all? If leadership development in your organization happens just when there is time or is a free for all, then perhaps it’s cause for concern and a call to action to be more intentional about your leadership development. Is there a crisis? Yes, because there are more leadership positions opening than organizations are able to fill due to a void of prepared and experienced leaders.

An effective leadership development program should contain these 4 components:

  1. Cultural alignment
  2. Applicable skills & tools
  3. Internal mentorship
  4. External coaching

Concerned?

Are you concerned about your leadership development or that of those within your organization? 

Recent retirement trends are leaving a significant leadership gap in many organizations.  At the same time, many up-and-coming leaders are concerned that they are not getting the leadership development they need to be successful leaders or to be prepared for these opening positions.

In addition, although leadership development programs are available in abundance, many are not aligned with the organization’s culture, don’t help the leaders apply what they learn within their day-to-day responsibilities, and, as a result, lack sustained impact on the leader and the organization.

So, if you are not concerned, you should be!

The Scary Truth

A shocking 77%* of organizations report that leadership within their teams is lacking.  83%* say leadership development at all levels of their organization is a priority.   However, the scary part is that less than 5%* of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels!

Less than 5%* of companies have implemented leadership development at all levels

With senior-level and the most experienced leaders retiring from the workforce in high numbers, 50%* of companies state they lack the leadership talent they need. 47%* predict a shortage of leadership skills in the near future!

47%* predict a shortage of leadership skills in the near future!

Although this needs to be a concern for organizations and senior leaders, this is an excellent opportunity for new and upcoming leaders! Although we don’t need another crisis, we are facing a leadership development crisis, nonetheless.

How We Got Here

The result of slowed population growth in the decades following the “baby boomers” is that there is a smaller leadership pool to draw upon for these needed leaders.  It also means that leaders are being promoted at a younger age and advancing through the leadership ranks faster and sooner than their predecessors.  This in itself is not necessarily a concern or a bad thing.  However, these developing leaders must have the skillsets and knowledge to be effective leaders, gain influence, and drive positive impact across their organizations.  Unlike their predecessors, many of these leaders typically desire and need more mentoring and coaching than they currently receive to gain experience and increase their confidence.

There is a path forward by having an integrated and intentional approach to leadership development. 

4 Leadership Development Components 

4 critical components must be integrated and intentional to result in effective leadership development.  Those 4 components are cultural alignment, applicable skills & tools, internal mentorship, and external coaching.  Let’s take a closer look at each component.

1  Cultural Alignment

Any leadership development program must be aligned with the organization’s culture, meaning that the program reinforces the company’s values, methodology and approach to leadership, as opposed to being abstract to or does not emphasize these attributes in the leadership development program.  For example, if the organization’s culture is one of continuous improvement through team member engagement, aligning to a leadership development program that applies this thinking and provides concepts and practical skills that can be directly used in this culture is critical.

Unlike specific skills training such as accounting or excel macro coding, for example, leadership development programs need to be aligned to the culture because the demonstrated leadership either positively or negatively impacts the realization of the organization’s vision, mission, and values through the engagement of their team members.

In addition, leadership development programs should have progressive and aligned development for leaders at all levels of the organization.  Progressive in the sense of continued development building on previously developed skills to prepare them for advancing their career and being capable and confident to take on a larger scope of responsibilities.  In doing so, a common leadership language and approach is created throughout the organization providing stability and consistent leadership.  This intentionality then provides a known and defined career development path for leaders throughout all levels of the organization.   As a result, defined leadership development can be easily integrated with organizational performance reviews or talent development programs that provide clear leadership development paths and a structured approach versus haphazard or random.

2  Applicable Skills & Tools

Leadership development programs no doubt provide great insights into proven management theory; however, organizations and leaders need and want practical concepts that they can apply to improve leadership and have a positive impact immediately.  A failure of many leadership development programs is that there is too much focus on interesting management theories but often lack how to execute or apply these theories in the workplace.  This is a significant cause of leaders returning from great-sounding leadership development programs, but little impact is observed or sustained long term.

Scrutiny of the leadership development program curriculum is an essential first step. Ensuring that the topics covered are very closely aligned with the practical skills necessary for the intended leaders to be successful and have an impact is essential.  The upskills learned must be immediately applied within their current responsibilities or in the near term.  Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes.  In this case, it’s more about creating the desired leadership approach and habits.

Practice makes perfect!

As important as the curriculum is, it is equally essential that the leadership development program is designed to provide the leader with immersive learning opportunities.  In other words, real examples, case studies, practical exercises, and immediate application through work-related assignments and projects.  This approach again helps the leaders apply what they have learned and realize immediate benefits, which provides a reward and pull to continue to use them.  It then causes a shift from learning to doing.  Most people learn more effectively by doing.

3  Internal Mentorship

Another common failure mode in leadership development is that it should be discussed again after the leader obtains approval to attend or is asked to attend.  Often this is not the case.  Leaders are left with a feeling of “so what” and wonder if they wasted their time.  The organization risks a poor return on investment as there is no check and balance to ensure a positive impact for the leader and the organization, let alone if the leader even attended!

Leadership development programs that include an internal mentor develop relationships, improve the alignment of cultural values throughout the leadership levels, sustain a common leadership language and approach, and improve impact and sustained results

Mentorships accelerate the leader’s application and use of the skills and tools through encouragement and reinforcement of use within the organization.  The mentor’s experience can assist the leader in overcoming barriers and challenges they face with a mutual understanding of the circumstances and environment.

An added benefit of an internal mentorship program is that the mentor also learns significantly from the experience.  Discussing the skills and tools with the leader refreshes and reinforces the approaches with the mentor and deepens their understanding simultaneously.  Mentoring is also an enriching experience for the mentor, driving higher engagement and satisfaction levels.

4  External Coaching

Additional coaching from an experienced leadership coach increases the leader’s self-awareness and builds confidence

Today’s upcoming leaders need and desire more coaching than they currently receive.  Many leaders state they are not getting enough coaching from within their organizations.  There are several benefits of an external coach. 

In our coaching, we are experiencing that leaders need to bounce ideas and thoughts off of someone, require some assurance that their approach is on the right path, and seek a safe environment to do so.

Leaders are running at an incredible pace these days.  Many are not giving themselves the time to adequately think through their challenges and develop an intentional approach to moving forward.  The feedback we consistently hear is that coaching provides the leader with a structure that almost forces them to stop and think at a deeper level before acting.  Without structured coaching, they tend to fire-ready-aim more often than not.  In other words, their leadership or decision-making is not very intentional.

Fire –> Ready –> Aim

Many leaders lack self-confidence in themselves and are concerned about making a mistake.  We find that the leaders are on the right track but need some assurance.  External coaching can accelerate the leader’s confidence building by helping the leader think through what options they have and which are better than others.  Confidence is built because the leaders develop the options and make the decisions on their own.  The coach challenges them with questioning to help along the process.

External coaching provides the leader with a safe environment that is confidential and disconnected from the organization.  Coaching conversations with an external coach are confidential and not shared with anyone.  This allows the leader to be vulnerable and self-critical without fear of repercussions.  Being able and comfortable with being vulnerable, leaders can more readily identify their concerns and barriers and develop approaches that work for them to face and overcome them quickly.

Conclusion

There is a massive void in leadership right in front of us.  It’s already here!

Individual leaders must invest more time and effort in their development.  Take the lead, don’t wait for someone else or their organization to do so.  “I’m too busy right now” is a common excuse.  Guess what? You will always be too busy.  No one should care more about your leadership development than you!  No one!  If you do not invest in your development, you will not advance or achieve your full capability.  Others will find time, and you will be left behind.  Achieve your career aspirations and grow to your full potential.  Take action today to intentionally determine your leadership development next steps!

Organizations are facing a significant challenge.  Leaders don’t just appear, and you can’t just hire them.  Not anymore.  You must be growing and developing them.  Leadership development is a significant investment in all forms of resources.  Take action today by creating a leadership development program approach that includes the 4 critical components discussed!

* 25 Surprising Leadership Statistics (2022)

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Leadership, Personal Development

Leadership Development Includes Learning to ‘See’

While on a hike recently, I saw this rock amazingly balanced on its endpoint. It wasn’t as obvious and easy to see as the pictures indicate either! There we lots of people on the trail, many stopping at this lookout, and looking right past this rock without noticing. Their loss!

It reminded me that our leadership development needs to include learning to ‘See’. I believe this is an essential skill for leaders. Seeing beyond what most people see or at least seeing a different perspective of the same image. Teaching your eyes to see is a learned skill that, once mastered, opens your eyes to many new things.

Teaching your eyes to see – Learning to see

An example of teaching your eyes to see that I experienced while on an in-depth TPS training program in Japan several years ago involved learning to see 1/10th of a second kaizens. 1/10th of a second is very difficult to see and equates to the slightest of hand motions, movements, or on equipment, tiny adjustments. We had the task of reducing the cycle time within a production line by 30 seconds but doing so through 1/10th of a second kaizens. Being experienced operations guys and after observing the line for several cycles, it was apparent to us what was needed. With some changes to the layout, moving equipment closer together, adjusting the material flow, and other equipment modifications, the 30 seconds was a done deal. As part of the training, we had to prepare a scaled drawing detailing our kaizen ideas. Our Sensei would review the drawings, and if approved, the improvements would get implemented. We spent several hours drafting our kaizen ideas on day one and provided the completed drawings for review and approval. The Sensei looked at the proposals and very clearly expressed his disapproval! We received a similar response several times over the following couple of days. We were ready to throw in the towel, but then suddenly, like a light switch, we could see these subtle movements of waste and 1/10th of a second kaizens.

Although I don’t necessarily advocate this teaching method, it emphasizes that leadership development needs to include learning to see what is or what is not happening. It is important to see those subtle forms of waste, abnormalities, opportunities, and, I suggest, clues that then beg questions. Good questions!

For example, one time, while on a Gemba, we came across a box of rubber gloves attached to a column of the building. Above the box was a handwritten sign that said

Gloves are for hazardous material spills only

This situation was crazy on so many levels! We didn’t just see a poorly made sign and a duct-taped glove box. We ‘saw’ many questions and concerns, such as:

  • How often are hazardous material spills happening?
  • Are spills so frequent that we think we need gloves conveniently placed?
  • Are these spills actually “hazardous materials”?!?!?!
  • With the gloves free for the taking, are hazardous material spills happening and not being reported?
  • Does the leadership even know when the spills are happening and investigating?
  • How are the gloves and wastes from the spills being disposed of?
  • Assuming for a minute that it was a good practice to have the gloves available, how do they get replenished?
  • Are the people cleaning up these spills properly, and are they adequately trained to do so?
  • Why are spills happening in the first place?

STOP!!!  TIME OUT!

This example is pretty astounding and scary and may seem hard to believe, but yet it is true. It is even more disturbing that many leaders walked right past this sign during the Gemba and didn’t even notice it. Even more frightful, the building leadership had walked past it many times and didn’t really “see” it!

So how do you learn to see? Practice.

Go to the floor with a specific purpose to learn to see. For example, go with a focus on seeing one specific thing. Such as arm overreaching, bending, twisting, outdated signs or posters, trip hazards, pinch points, sign effectiveness and meaning, opportunities to cause product damage, unnecessary motion, a specific type of waste stream, sources of floor debris, etc., etc. The point is to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to see a particular focus. Look for that focus and only that focus. Ask yourself as many questions as possible on that specific item when you see it. See beyond the obvious. Look for deeper meaning, symptoms, evidence, and abnormalities. Repeat often with a new or different focus. With practice, you will soon see these things naturally and without effort. Once you learn to see, you won’t be able to turn it off.

Nope, it’s not rocket science. Seems too easy, right? Try it. You’ll like it!

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Leadership, Personal Development

Little Leadership Gestures

My daughter recently graduated from university and started her first career position. So this morning, I pulled out a book to give her that I found very beneficial to me over the years when I started at a new company or in a new position. That’s when I came across the note on the inside cover, shown below, from a leader (my former boss), mentor, and friend, Vito Ciciretto.

I was reminded how as leaders, we can have such a positive and long-lasting impact on people with the simplest gestures. It doesn’t matter if they report to you or if you even work with them. We all need a little encouragement and to know someone believes in us!

When I received this book with the inscribed note in the mail, it meant so much to me and still does today. The book’s content also helped me succeed in several new positions. Over the years, I followed Vito’s lead and adopted this approach, having sent several books and notes to colleagues in my network. I hope it helped them as much as Vito’s note helped me.

This morning, I turned the book’s page and wrote a note to my daughter as I gave her a couple of books I hope will help her as she starts her new career.

Don’t underestimate the positive impact you can have with little leadership gestures.

Leave a comment below with what you do to help and support your network or what others have done to support you.

Leadership, Lean and Continuous Improvement, Personal Development

Prioritized Leader Actions are for, well, EVERYONE!

Prioritized Leader Actions or Leader Standardized Work

This post is a revision from a previously popular post.

I’ve never understood why so few leaders use Leader Standardized Work (LSW). Talking with many leaders over the years, the explanation I hear most is that they don’t have standard repeatable work or tasks. Baloney! All leaders have regular actions that they must or want to take on an ongoing basis. Examples include budget reviews, team member 1:1s, Gemba (go to the workplace), submitting your monthly business expenses, and many others. So if the “standardized work” wording is a barrier to using LSW, in HPL’s new fall ‘Lunch and Lead’ program called “4-steps to Time Shifting – making time for the things that really matter“, I’ve rephrased it to “Prioritized Leader Actions” or PLA. Ultimately, I think it more accurately reflects the intent relating to leadership responsibilities. Leaders are too often ‘fighting fires,’ and I believe a significant cause of this is that they are not proactive enough! Yes, it’s only a name change, but unfortunately, I think the name LSW casts a negative perception on many to the point that they don’t even consider it. So, let’s talk about Prioritized Leader Actions (PLA)!

I’ve found PLA to be a great tool to help me be a more consistent and effective leader. I’ve used PLA for years. For me, it’s my little voice reminding me of the most important things I need to do or that I want to do to be successful when leading. These are my priorities. Regardless of your responsibility, there is an inevitable component of it that is repeatable; therefore, Prioritized Leader Actions are for, well, everyone! It’s not just a manufacturing thing!!!

Here are some key points I found helpful when it comes to PLA:

1. Set up PLA with a designated section for daily, weekly, monthly and Mid-long term (quarterly, semi-annual) based on the frequency of completion of the task or action.

2. Place tasks in the PLA that are important to YOU that you must get done and those that you want to complete, check, or confirm because they are essential to you or your business.

3. Set your PLA up on a monthly basis, refreshing it at the beginning of each month.

4. Have a method within the PLA to indicate which days you are on vacation and identify when you are out of the office on business. Doing so will help you plan more effectively when you complete tasks, or it will provide you with the opportunity to delegate if necessary.

5. PLA should be dynamic, not static. It’s OK to add and remove items from your PLA. However, as priorities change, new systems develop, metrics improve or degrade, you may find that you need to adjust what you’re doing or what you’re checking and confirming.

6. PLA is for you, not anyone else. It’s OK to show people your PLA, but I don’t advocate posting it. It’s more effective if you carry it with you at all times to help you execute it versus showing others. As a leader, you should also check your team’s PLA periodically.

7. If you’re not getting to something on your PLA, don’t beat yourself up; instead, find the root cause for not getting it done and determine what you need to do differently to achieve it. After all, the items on your PLA were put there by you because you either need to get them done as a core responsibility of your job or they are most important to you. Then, use it to improve your self-discipline, motivate you, or remind you to just do it!

8. PLA must be integral to your planning system and routine. It must integrate with your schedule, follow-up system, and to-do lists.

9. Print out your PLA for the month, update it daily as you complete tasks daily, and “pencil” in additional PLA tasks as you’re thinking of them throughout the month.

10. When you get busy, that’s when you need your PLA the most. Please don’t abandon it, then. Instead, use it to help you get the most important things done. Then, when you can’t do everything, use it to make an informed decision as to what will and will not get done.

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my PLA. To make things easier, I’ve added some conditional formatting for the visibility of weekends, business travel, or when out on vacation. I prepare the PLA for the month, print it out, and then use it daily by marking tasks using a pen. PLA is integral to my daily, weekly, and monthly planning system.

Check out our ‘Tools‘ page to download a template of my PLA to use for yourself. Then, modify it as necessary to make it work for you.

I hope you found this helpful. Are there any key points I’ve missed or, in your experience, you feel are most important?

Contact me:

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