There’s an epidemic of frantic busyness, multi-tasking, project overload, way too many goals, and tyranny of the urgent. An old folk saying reminds us “the hurrier I go the behinder I get.” A theme running through many recent blog postings has been the critical need to be more focused, disciplined, and strategic with our personal, team, and organizational time and resources.

Here are a few timeless and timely reminders of this critical leadership skill.

“He who begins too much, accomplishes too little.”
– German proverb

“I am really tough on time, on prioritizing those things that are truly important – ‘high-leverage’ activities…that’s what I constantly talk about to our executives: Spend time on the high-leverage activities, and delegate those activities that aren’t high-leverage.”
– Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx

“It seems essential, in relationships and all tasks, that we concentrate only on what is most significant and important.”
– Søren Aaby Kierkegaard, 19th Century Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist

“After observing scores of managers for many years, we came to the conclusion that managers who take effective action (those who make difficult – even seemingly impossible – things happen) rely on a combination of two traits: focus and energy.

Think of focus as concentrated attention – the ability to zero in on a goal and see the task through to completion. Focused managers aren’t in reactive mode; they choose not to respond immediately to every issue that comes their way or get sidetracked from their goals by distractions like e-mail, meetings, setbacks, and unforeseen demands. Because they have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish, they carefully weigh their options before selecting a course of action. Moreover, because they commit to only one or two key projects, they can devote their full attention to the projects they believe in.”
– Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, “Beware the Busy Manager,” Harvard Business Review

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
– “Mark Twain” pen name of 19th Century American author and humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens

“Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then to seek continual improvement from there. It’s really just that simple. And it’s really just that difficult.”
– Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Four Minute Interview Clip on Leading in Turbulent Times Now Available

After a Toronto presentation on “Leading in Turbulent Times: Building Flexible and Resilient Organizations,” Canadian HR Reporter editor, Shannon Klie, recorded a four minute interview with me on the number one leadership challenge in turbulent times, how to get everyone leading, what leadership looks like as an action and not position, why it’s important to build leadership throughout the organization, and how to help people get out of negative wallowing and become positive. CLICK HERE to view the four minute interview in our Media Centre. It’s the second screen shot in the center of the page under the heading of “Canadian HR Reporter.”