Fight Mediocrity With Ruthless Prioritization
Ruthlessly prioritize only the vital few priorities, delegate the rest, and focus your calendar to match to avoid mediocrity.
We’ve all seen leaders stretched thin trying to juggle an overwhelming number of priorities. In their attempt to handle everything at once, the quality of execution suffers across the board. Mediocrity creeps in through no fault of their own. The more crowded their plate, the more average their outcomes become.
I once coached an executive who managed seven direct reports while also overseeing three departments. In our first meeting she rattled off 23 critical priorities she was expected to achieve that quarter. After asking her to describe her ideal day, it became clear she realistically only had time for five, maybe six priorities before the quality of her leadership declined.
Successful leaders are ruthless prioritizers. Like a master chef adding just a pinch of spice, they sprinkle their attention judiciously on a few select priorities at a time. Trying to boil the ocean is a recipe for lukewarm results. They delegate less critical priorities to trusted direct reports.
Legendary CEO Alan Mulally applied this principle effectively when he arrived at Ford Motor Company in 2006. With the company on the brink of bankruptcy, Mulally implemented the "One Ford" strategy that focused on four priorities - improving quality, fuel efficiency, safety, and smart technology across all Ford brands globally. His ruthless prioritization transformed Ford into an industry leader within five years.
The next time your portfolio of priorities becomes unmanageable, ask yourself this question: If I could only focus on one priority today, this week and this month, which would have the biggest impact? Then apply the same filter to your calendar. Schedule time for your top priority first before adding secondary commitments.
Like flashing warning lights on the dashboard, mediocrity signals it’s time to prune priorities down to the vital few. Distill your priorities until only the most essential remain. Not only will the quality of your leadership improve, but your team’s execution will as well. Mastery requires focus. Don’t let the unimportant crowd out the critical. Embrace the power of ruthless prioritization.