Have More Time for Your Priorities

Here are three suggestions to significantly reduce demands on your time:

  • Attract, develop, and retain really good people who report to you. This is very highest priority because direct reports who do not perform well cause you to have to step in and work at their level. When you do that, you are also underperforming. Get great people so you can add the highest value.
  • Formulate and articulate a very clear mission or purpose. A mission forces you and your organization to focus on what is important. Say no to things that may be attractive, but aren’t aligned with your purpose.
  • Leaders are under tremendous pressure to do way too many things. It’s a mistake to try to do 20 different things. Instead, choose 1-2 priorities each day and say no to everything else. Move the 1-2 things ahead a mile instead of moving 20 things forward an inch.
Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I provide leaders with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I advise and consult with leaders to increase their effectiveness and improve work/life balance. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce sustainable growth and value.
If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for your priorities, contact me. Together, we’ll explore ways to work together.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

 

Escaping Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand to fill the time allotted to it. That’s why meetings fill the time scheduled even when the content doesn’t require it.

The senior leader’s challenge with this goes beyond meetings has two dimensions: An organizational challenge and a personal challenge. Organizations have more available initiatives and projects than resources, so they must choose which ones to work on, and which to conscientiously ignore. That is a key part of formulating strategy and operating plans. And it is the senior leader who has the final responsibility of making the decision.

On the personal side, the senior leader always needs more time than is available, so the challenge is both choosing the right things to do and reducing the amount of time needed to do his/her own work. I’ve been successful in helping CEOs and presidents capture 1-2 hours per day to focus more on strategy, spend more time with key customers, or improve their work-life balance. The key is discipline, routines, and developing a capable and efficient organization.

Parkinson’s Law is not universal. You do not have to be bound by it.

Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
___________________________
Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust. He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years. Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .
Contact him at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

 

When Self-Improvement Really Begins

I work with CEOs, presidents, and high-level executives to improve their effectiveness. While I have made exceptions, as a rule I won’t take a client who is referred to me for remedial coaching or “last chance” coaching. The reason is simple: The odds of a person making progress are slim or none if he/she doesn’t want to improve, doesn’t see the need and is unwilling to accept objective feedback.

I recently spoke to a group of about a dozen employees in a corporation on increasing personal effectiveness in their various roles. I asked each person in the group to assess eight of their personal skills and abilities are on a scale of 1 (very weak, lots of room to improve) to 10 (outstanding, can’t get much better.) Normally, individuals in groups like this will rate themselves from 4 to 8 on most items. In this group, they all scored themselves from 8 to 10 on every item. What it told me was that either the culture did not allow them to be honest in their assessments, or that they simply are not honest with themselves. If you believe that you are a 9 or a 10 in communication (as an example,) then you’re not being objective. Everyone can improve communication skills.

The first step in self-improvement is to see the need or opportunity to improve. That’s the beginning point. It doesn’t matter if others say improvement is needed; unless the individual sees the need, it’s a non-starter.

P.S. Getting to 9 or 10 on the 1-10 scale is not very important. Continual progress and improvement is.

How to Align Priorities

As a leader, you need to make sure that priorities are aligned throughout your organization, and that people are working on those priorities. To accomplish alignment, do the following:

  1. Provide context continuously. This means the big picture – what is our business strategy? What is the role of different parts of the organization in achieving that strategy?
  2. Check priorities regularly. Tell your associates what your priorities are. Say, “This is what I am focusing on.” Then ask each of them, “What are you focusing on?”

Without the context and priorities, people will do what they think are the priorities and they may be very different from what you need from them.

For example, a manager might do what will reflect well on her career. Or a manager might want to create overly complex or sophisticated processes, instead of what will help achieve overall business goals. People have conflicting demands; make sure they are working on the right ones.

I worked with a large organization on strategy and structure of a rapidly-growing division which was structured around serving a specific market, and the intent was to strengthen the focus. But in conversations with the CEO and COO it became clear that the overall business strategy called for a new purpose and structure that would add tremendous value to both the overall organization and to specific market. The context provided vital direction.

If you really want to sharpen focus, send a short email to each associate noting what you discussed, agreed to with time frame.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, contact me.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob (at) boblegge.com

The Transition Every Executive Must Make

Last week I was in Rhode Island where Autumn is beginning to take hold. It got me thinking about transitions and especially the transition that any new executive must make to shift from an operational perspective to a broader business-wide perspective.

When you become a senior leader, you have to change the way you think about both your role and the business. Senior leaders who don’t do this will be ineffective at best, and fail at worse.

Operational management is focused on getting sales, improving processes, and internal performance on a number of measures. But senior executives must be concerned with the business. And the position challenges are very different as a senior leader. You have to be concerned with how to grow the business, how to increase competitive advantage, how to provide a return that is better than the cost of capital, how to sustain profitability, and so on.

Those challenges require a different, more strategic perspective on the business, and new skills, not the least of which is how best to use your time.

As a senior leader, you need competent people to handle operations so that you have time to focus on overall business challenges.

The success of the business depends on you making this transition. But it’s not easy because the temptation is to get involved with operational issues and decisions – where you likely feel comfortable and have been successful in the past.

And importantly, you are in a position where you can feel very much isolated and alone facing key decisions for which you are fully accountable.

I have had significant success working with senior executives on this transition and the many other singular issues facing senior executives. If you, or another executive in your organization, want to make faster, surer progress, contact me. I’d welcome the opportunity to talk and explore how we could work together.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Do You Have Enough Discretionary Time?

C-level executives must have discretionary time to work on the tasks that are most important to the company. These include such tasks as strategy, organization direction, communication, and people development. All this requires time to think.

Yet, finding discretionary time can be difficult when everyone wants some of your time and there’s not enough room in your schedule for all the meetings others want you to attend. You cannot do it all, and if you try to do it all, you won’t be doing your job and you won’t have a healthy work-life balance.

There is no simple solution – it depends greatly on the individual executive’s situation. What I’ve found helpful in my work with senior-level executives is first an appreciation for the difference between how an executive thinks time is spent and the actual use of time. That’s a good beginning.

Time is a resource. It needs to be prioritized. And time to think is also a value. I’ve heard that in Japan people will interrupt if you are busy, but will not interrupt if you are thinking. The opposite is more prevalent here. (It’s not very easy to pick-up where you left off if your thinking is interrupted.)

When you have sufficient discretionary time, your performance, your contribution to the enterprise, and your work-life balance will all improve.

Do you have enough discretionary time to perform at the level of your position? If not, what are you doing to about it? Contact me for suggestions.

How Successful Executives Demonstrate a Strategic Perspective

An important challenge any successful executive needs to master is the transition from an operational project focus to a strategic focus. That’s not to say that projects aren’t important (they are.) Executives will contribute to identifying and prioritizing key projects, but leading projects is the task of operational positions.

Here’s how mature executives demonstrate a strategic perspective:

  • Exhibiting a very good sense of how the business operates including how value is created, the economic drivers of success, and what costs are most important to monitor and control.
  • Showing longer-term thinking and not narrowly focused on the short-term.
  • Having a functional or divisional strategy that clearly connects to the overall business strategy and goals.
  • Being focused on company needs, policies and priorities, not just his or her own function or division.
  • Clearly reflecting the values of the company in his or her behaviors, decisions, and actions.

Two helpful resources to make this transition to a strategic perspective are a role model and an advisor – both of whom have successfully done it before.

Are you demonstrating a strategic perspective?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Strategy and Growing Your Business

When I see a company year-after-year forecast sizable increases in revenues and profits and regularly miss the forecast I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s admonition about insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

To achieve growth, you need to think differently about your business and do it on a continual basis.

For the past few Mondays I have written about strategic thinking because it is a skill that is required to be an effective executive. And through my experience coaching executives and leaders, I know it is a skill that can be acquired. But like any skill, it needs practice and reinforcement.

By the way, don’t confuse strategic thinking with strategic planning. You may plan once a year, but strategic thinking needs to be happening regularly throughout the year.

Can your strategic thinking be sharpened? How about the strategic thinking skills of your executives? Do you have a regular process to identify strategic insights?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Are You Discovering Enough Strategic Insights?

Nearly every company has experienced a period of prolonged financial difficulty. Growth does not occur in a straight line, but rather in a series of growth curves similar to product lifecycle curves where growth accelerates, then slows and levels off.

The challenge is to anticipate the slow-down and get onto a new growth curve before the plateau. Once on a plateau, it is difficult to see a new growth curve. Better to anticipate it first.

But what causes a growth curve to slow in the first place? The vast majority of growth plateaus or stall points are caused not by economic downturns, but rather by poor strategic choices the most prevalent of which is continuing to ride one strategy as if it will last a long time, and getting solely focused on day-to-day operations. When that happens you get blind-sided by market disruptions caused by market or technical innovations or entirely new business models.

It is the responsibility of leaders and executives to take the lead in thinking strategically about the business. The best companies implement an ongoing strategic process to continually surface strategic insights on a regular basis. It’s not a once-a-year event, but rather a disciplined and regular focus. Monthly is good. Amazon does it weekly.

That is the way to spot early-on impending growth slow-downs, plateaus, and stall-points.

What is your process for continually surfacing strategic insights? Are you able to make adjustments to business strategy, not just operational decisions? How good are your strategic thinking skills, and are you continually sharpening them?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Learning to Think Strategically

Newly-promoted executives face a number of significant challenges as they adapt to an executive role. One of the most significant is the ability to think strategically.

In my 30 years of working with executives, it is rare that a new executive has that skill. Even among executives with years of experience relatively few are good at thinking strategically because they have built their careers on being good at operations.

Of course, operational excellence is extremely important, but so is keeping an eye on the external environment and that is a key role for any executive.

My point: Relatively few executives are skilled in thinking strategically.

The ability to think strategically is important for the entire management team, not just the top leader. You need all executives to develop strategic insights from their various perspectives and disciplines as input to business strategy.

Are you providing your executive team with development programs aimed at honing strategic thinking skills?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com