Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leadership as a matter of timing

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 23, 2013

I have written about leadership, and setting and managing priorities in other postings and in that regard cite Leadership and Setting Priorities in the Face of Disagreement. I turn here to consider a very closely related but still separate and distinct area of decision and action: timing and its role in effective leadership. And I begin that by pointing out a frequently assumed misconception, that high priority tasks must always be carried out and completed first. Sometimes even a highest priority task has to be prepared for before it can be addressed, and with the clearing up of preliminary and preparatory tasks if nothing else. Sometimes outside factors and circumstances impose delays in your business being able to complete or even start a high priority task. Consider a situation where a highest priority task calls for delivery of some specific resource essential to it, that cannot become available until a third party provider has finished producing it and has been able to deliver it to you. Just because you are being held up in carrying through on one task, and even a very high priority one does not, or at least should not mean everything else going on in your business has to grind to a halt. Business operations and strategic execution still have to take place, even if according to Plan B approaches and prioritization to account for certain tasks and goals not being completed that in a more ideal world would be addressed first.

So this posting is about leadership and effective executive level management when everything is not going smoothly and according to preconceived plan. Leadership looks and is easy, or at least it is a lot easier when everything follows a safe and predictable script. Real leadership with all of its challenges, and the need for it arise when tried and true and predictable and planned for all fall apart, or become superseded by change and by unexpected challenge or opportunity.

• Timing is everything. But the timing that you face as a leader and the timing requirements that you have to accommodate and even thrive in might not always be what you plan for.
• Prioritizing your tasks and goals and operational processes is important and a key to effective management. But what you prioritize, and when you can carry through on your lists of prioritized tasks and projects can become decoupled and have to be reconnected to meet new and unexpected circumstances.

I write this as a brief but nevertheless important addition to my ongoing postings on leadership, with a goal of taking this ongoing if periodic discussion more clearly out of the realm of the idealized and cartoonish that so much discussion of leadership per se tends to fall into – my own probably at least at times included. You can find this and other, similar postings at Business Strategy and Operations and its Part 2 continuation page and also see HR and Personnel.

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