You know how it goes: You start your workday with a pretty good idea of what you want to do and need to accomplish.
You have really good intentions about how productive your day will be and then, you get an unexpected phone call.
Someone is sick or hurt or perhaps it’s your spouse calling to let you know the basement has flooded and you are immediately needed at home.
Whatever it is, it is not what you planned and you immediately need to shift your focus.
The meetings you intended to lead, the projects you envisioned working on, or customers you planned to see suddenly are not as important as they were 15 minutes earlier. Yet, because you are a dedicated leader, you can’t just leave those things hanging. You must quickly make arrangements to get those things tended to so you can focus on what has now become your new priority.
This happens to leaders all the time. Life gets in the way and we have to shift our focus away from leading our team or running our business and hope that things don’t fall apart while we shift our focus elsewhere. How do you do this most effectively?
There are three critical factors which can help you not only do this effectively, but also be a role model for your employees so they too know how to shift their focus without allowing things to fall apart when it happens to them.
First, you need to have someone you can delegate your most important and immediate tasks to; whether a subordinate, your boss, or your assistant, this person is someone you have a high degree of confidence in and trust to take on your responsibilities for the time-being. Do you have someone like this in your workplace or on your team? If not, consider getting someone in place before you need them there (and you will need them eventually, trust me!).
Second, communicate as much information as possible with whatever time you have available. The level of communication and details required will depend upon how much you will be away from your leadership role and for how long. Be as succinct as you can with what you need and ensure your delegate (or delegates) understand the expectations. If you are taken away or need to leave suddenly without having time to explain all the details of what you will need, try to follow up with them as soon as you can; this will ensure your delegates understand their role in your absence.
Lastly, try to completely let go of the “what’s” and “how’s” of things going on at work or in your business and allow yourself to focus on the priority that has arisen in your life. This may be the hardest part but not only will you enable those you’ve delegated to the opportunity to flourish, but also will enable you to focus your attention on where it needs to be.
These behaviors set a positive example to your workforce and team for how they can handle shifting priorities in their own lives. By observing how you, the leader, behave when your life events shift your priorities, your team knows the best way to respond when their own life events shift their priorities. Life happens and we, as leaders, need to respond appropriately so that the team can do the same.
This month’s development tip: Do you have at least one person you can delegate your responsibilities to if something unexpected comes up in your life? This month, ensure you have that person (or people) and are comfortable with what you would do if (and when) you have to shift your focus away from your work and onto a personal life situation.
Andria Corso, founder of C3-Corso Coaching & Consulting, has worked with a variety of Fortune 100 C-suite leadership teams as well as individual HR professionals who want to gain more respect for their expertise.
Leading work effectively image from Shutterstock