What’s your leadership focus?

signficanceI’m always looking for ways to be more productive and to use time to my advantage. I keep my eyes open for resources I might tap into, one of the most recent being the book, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time. The reviews on Amazon were very favorable so I thought the quick read would be worth my time. It was, but for more than just self-management strategies. The paradigm that author Rory Vaden puts forth actually shed light on something that I see great leaders do well.

Vaden proposes a paradigm shift from the old time management matrix suggested by Stephen Covey in the classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Most of us self-manage thinking about tasks in terms of urgency and importance. Vaden suggests we add a third dimension, significance, thus changing the paradigm.

Urgency – How SOON does this matter?

Importance – How MUCH does this matter?

Significance – How LONG does this matter?

Vaden suggests that people who are “multipliers” – those who spend time on the things today that will give them more time tomorrow – consider all three when deciding what gets their time and attention. In other words, they think long term.

How does this connect to what we do as school leaders? The educational system, highly regulated, is transfixed on urgency and importance – standards, pacing guides, standardized testing, school ratings, complex teacher and principal rating systems, child abuse training, criminal clearances and on and on. Mostly, these mechanisms have been established by policymakers outside of education based on their paradigm of urgency and importance and have little to do with what really matters. As school leaders, many of us have mindlessly fallen into the trap of giving our full attention to what others perceive as the urgent and important to the detriment of the significant. What does this result in? A lack of vision!

After processing this new paradigm, it makes perfect sense to me – the leaders without a vision beyond state initiatives self-manage based only on urgency and importance. Those leaders with a vision consider all three components including significance, maintaining a balance between short-term and long-term vision. The greatest leadership challenge today, I believe, is balancing the short-term state mandates with a long-term progressive vision for education. Thinking within the three-pronged time management framework can help us as school leaders maintain that balance. Want to change your world? Add significance to your thought process.

How does thinking about significance change your practice as a school leader? Once you add significance to your self-management paradigm as a school leader, what new, significant questions emerge? What is most significant for the teachers and students you lead? Should you refocus? How can you do that?

There are many ways school leaders can refocus on the significant — conferences, professional reading, social media, etc. A team from Salisbury will be attending the Future Ready Summit in Baltimore this coming week. I’m looking forward to some significant conversations that will help us think about our priorities and allocate our time resource most effectively this summer and into the upcoming school year.



3 comments on “What’s your leadership focus?

  1. The significance builds capacity. While the urgency and importance often feel like the things we are running away from, the significance shows us what we are working toward.

    Now I just need to summon the will power to balance all three dimensions when approaching the pile of tasks.

  2. Pingback: Work of significance – What’s your superpower? | Working at the edge

  3. Pingback: 4 Ways to Move Compliance to the Side of Your Plate | Working at the edge

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