“Deb, do you have a minute?”, my Manager of Food Safety asked.

I dropped my things on my desk after spending two hours that morning sorting email at home, only to find 20 new messages waiting for me.

I returned with my coffee, getting ready to call over my employee when the phone rings. It’s the VP of sales saying there’s an urgent issue with a customer and could I jump on a conference call in 30 minutes. Quickly, I rethink my morning and feel depleted because I was responding to urgent matters vs. what’s important.

This same “fire fighter” behavior is a common practice when handling business challenges and team relationships. We build relationships with our team in order to support them as they perform within the organization, but often push the maintenance of those relationships aside for more urgent matters.

We need to rethink our relationships and the time we allocate to each in order to get ahead in our work. Think about it, who should really be in an important relationship where we focus more of our time vs. those that we deal with on urgent matters. Wouldn’t a day be better spent with customers, working in partnership with sales or aligning with operations leaders to prepare our operations for regular customer or community visits? How many of you “wish” they could spend their day with these “Important” relationships vs. “Urgent” relationships?

Three important tips to change where you spend time in your relationships.

Identify “important” relationships

By identifying who you need to spend more time with and why the relationships are important, you have an outcome you are targeting. In The CEO’s Compass, I talk about Peace of Mind where if you spend more time with these important relationships, you will achieve the outcome you seek. For instance, spending more time with your customers because in the end being in partnership vs. reactive situations will ease the stress and you’ll realize a higher level of accomplishment.

Identify “urgent” relationships and how to remove yourself from them

Establish the framework and systems needed to triage urgent events and how they can be resolved without your involvement. Think about creating work standards where you give rules to your people to make decisions on their own and only the most important come to you.

Could these issues be grouped together for a weekly meeting and dealt with all at once vs. one by one? Have you delegated decision making to your team or given them additional responsibility to handle some of the urgent matters vs. the world being centered around yourself? Sometimes as companies grow in numbers, the leaders don’t know how to shed these urgent matters from their plate that can easily be managed by their people. The People, Process & Platform compass points in The CEO’s Compass give you the tools to elevate your people to handle “urgent” issues and giving you back the time to cultivate the “important” relationships.

Be a disciplined leader and spend 80% of your time on important relationships

‘You’ve got to be kidding’ you say to yourself when I espouse 80%. How is that possible? Well, it’s you that has to set the boundaries and block out your time to invest in the important relationships. It all starts with you. I discuss this in the first chapter of my book. The most important thing about making changes in your relationships is the one you make with yourself.

In full transparency, I struggled with this and it took time to move the needle from the urgent relationships filling my day to spending more time cultivating the important. During my last few years in corporate, I had the pleasure of spending more time visiting my customer locations as well as inviting them to our location for collaborative conversations.

Today, as The Drop in CEO, I invest in 80% of important relationships where I can now say I have Peace of Mind. The question to ask yourself is do you have the capability or capacity to find your way to the True North Compass point and feel the same way? If you need a guide, I can be that person for you… you don’t have to do this alone. Be the leader you need to be for yourself so that others can follow your lead and spend more time with Important vs. Urgent relationships. 

If this makes sense, but you’d like to learn more about applying these principles to your situation, you can email medirect message me on linkedin or simply grab a few minutes on my calendar.  

I find through casual conversation leveraging The CEOs Compass often has all the answers for you to get back on track. 

The CEO’s Compass: Your Guide to Get Back on Track – If you’re that leader who feels in their gut something is off track, this could be the resource for you.

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Good Reads

7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis by Dr. Elia Gourgouris PhD (Author), Konstantinos Apostolopoulos – I had the good fortune of interviewing Kon on The Drop in CEO Podcast and realized the book is about resiliency that transcends leadership through a crisis and also everyday life. An easy and impactful read. He has a Roadmap to Resilience 30 Day challenge beginning November 22nd that is an excellent accompaniment to this book. You can learn more about that here.

Good Music

Josh Kramer – Where the Light Goes This song is a little soulful and sad, but uplifting at the same time. Today, I’m a bit under the weather as I write this article and while I don’t feel optimal, I still find strength in this peace as empathetic to my condition. I wish you good health and keep positive energy to move you forward. 

Good Advice

 “If you’re not standing on firm ground for yourself, you cannot give what you

don’t have.”

–Konstantinos Apostolopoulos

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