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What Are Your Priorities?
Do you know? Do your people know?
It is SO EASY to just work from deadline to deadline, to go down the to-do list and check things off, or to simply do the things someone brings up in the meeting. As leaders, though, we need to move beyond being responsive to being proactive. We need to figure out what really matters to us, so we and our people don’t waste a lot of time and effort on the things that don’t.
Many firms have mission statements that “aspirationally” capture what the company’s priorities are. In a strong firm, this statement is known throughout the firm, and generally accepted as “a pretty good summary” of what the priorities of the firm and its leadership are. Too often, however, there are people in the firm whose response is: “We have a mission statement? What is it?” or “The owners SAY that those are the priorities, but they only care about the bottom line.” Both of these are pretty bad for morale, productivity, retention, etc.
If your firm has a mission statement, I recommend you take a few moments to remind yourself of what it says. Consider how it ties in to what you and your team do. Consider how it could BETTER tie in to what you and your team do—is there “room for improvement?”
Consider also if the mission statement is something you agree with in the abstract, and something you can implement in reality. And also consider how you personally relate to it—does it go far enough for you? Can you create your own “personal mission statement” that dovetails with the company’s in a way that makes your work more purposeful and fulfilling for you (and also more beneficial to the company at the same time)?
Once you have a solid “feel” for this mission statement (your company’s and/or your own), find ways to share it with your team. It can be as simple as saying something like: “ You, know, I really want this team to be known as the best team in the business. I want to delight our clients with our high-quality work, with our record of follow-through on our commitments (including to deadlines and budgets), and for everyone working here to feel valued and respected for the contributions they make.”
I mean, use your own words here, but it can be a simple as letting people know what really matters to you.
Don’t just see this as a one-time decree—ideally, this statement is something you remind yourself and your team of… and that you actually work to DO… every day… every quarter… until it permeates the corporate culture around us and becomes as natural as breathing to consider how we can delight our clients with our meaningful contributions of high-quality work.