The three most important tasks of a leader

leadership Jun 24, 2021

When coaching top leaders, after a while, we invariably come to the question of what the most important tasks of a leader are in the first place. The answer is surprisingly simple, but known by almost no one.

And honestly, it took me several years of practice, various books and other study sources to crystallize these tasks. In hindsight, then, everything seems simple. 

Why is this insight important at all? Well, quite simply, because your time consumption should roughly correspond to the importance of your tasks. In other words, the most important task for you as a leader should also be allocated a high proportion of your attention, energy and time.

It actually sounds quite simple, and yet even top leaders, including CEOs, very often act contrary to this rule. The most common mistake is a high share of time being allocated to direct leadership and operational issues (including urgent problem solving). And these two subjects are exactly not the most important ones when it comes to top leadership. What is it instead?

Here are the three most important tasks of top leaders:
  1. Define and implement the business strategy. Yes, this is your first top task. Most leaders are aware of this too, they just don't act on it. Sometimes, strategy work is reduced to the annual offsite, a few meetings with the Board of Directors and a few sessions with the Leadership Team. But that is not the end of the story. The best leaders invest up to half of their time and energy in strategic topics because that's the only way to create a successful future.
  2. Develop the team. Yes, that's right, it doesn't say "lead the team." That would be self-evident. The much more important aspect is to continuously develop your team into top people (and adjust the team composition as well). This requires some habits and insights that a surprisingly large number of leaders are simply not aware of or familiar with.
  3. Develop yourself. This point is often almost entirely neglected because there never seems to be time for it. However, it is crucial that you as a leader constantly improve and develop yourself. As a rule of thumb, I recommend allocating 10 percent of your time and energy for this. Most are closer to just 2 percent.

In practice, it is anything but easy to spend more than 75 percent of your time and energy on these three topics. It requires, among other things, changing habits and moving outside your comfort zone. This almost always requires a coach.

Contact me with the keyword "Top Leader" and I will give you more information.




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