Your Priorities – Need Help?

Episode 115 of the Lead from Anywhere podcast discusses prioritization for leaders. If you’ve ever had a list of tasks, or several projects that all seemed important to get done, you know how important prioritization is. You also know how hard it can be to do! So what should a leader or manager do to help them prioritize their work? In this episode, I share one very easy tip that you can implement today.

Ask Your Team to Set Your Priorities – Listen Now!

How I Got Help From My Team

Listen, you and I, we’re leaders. But we’re also managers, technicians, chief bottle washers, and the chief talent officers. We have a lot on our plates. So much so that, and I’ve heard this from a lot of other leaders, that it becomes difficult to even know what tasks on our plate should take top priority.

I’ve been trying really hard to get a better handle on my time recently, to make sure I’m dedicating enough time to the companies I lead. Doing so required me to look at what I do, determine if it’s the highest and best use of my time, and if it is, prioritize those tasks or projects. For one of my brands, I had about 5 projects that, from my perspective, were equally important. I was having a really hard time putting them into a priority order.

After staring at the list of these 5 projects and thinking about it, it dawned on me that every project on that list was really about removing a roadblock or creating a process that would enable my team to succeed at work. Each project touched multiple areas of the work, which meant it would impact almost everyone working there. Once I figured that out, I realized it wasn’t me who should determine the priority order of my work. My team needed to tell me the priority.

I then went over to Slack, and asked for them to help me prioritize the list of 5 projects. By the end of the day, I had a newly-prioritized list of projects, based on importance to my team. How amazing is that? Really? Sometimes the hardest part of being a leader is knowing which work you need to focus on. By asking my team, they told me where they’d like me to focus based on our vision and goals. And, let’s not forget how great it made the team feel. They had input on what work their boss would do next – and got to prioritize the list of work in a way that will help THEM succeed at their job.

Could you imagine if every leader did this? I have a feeling we’d have a lot more businesses with happier employees and a better culture. To be clear, I’m not saying you should do this all the time, with every list, and every project you have on your to do list. But there are a few times I think asking your team to set your work priorities for you would be very helpful.

When to Ask Team to Set Your Priorities for You

First, this would be helpful when you’re overwhelmed. It’s really hard to make decisions when you’re overwhelmed, and prioritizing projects IS a decision. So if you already have too much on your plate, it may be worth asking your team to help you prioritize what they need you to focus on (and that may help you determine what could wait until later).

Another time it would be good to practice this is when the projects you’re working on, or need to work on, would benefit the whole team. When the work you’re doing is mainly to support them in their work. That was the case for me in the story I shared. I asked them to help me prioritize because every project on that list was to help them be more successful in their work. It just makes sense to involve them in decisions that directly impact them.

Finally, another time to practice this is when you’re trying to teach someone your leadership style. When you’re grooming leaders to take over for you, or to step into a new leadership role. I believe one thing that makes great leaders great is that they are always teaching and coaching future leaders on how to lead. One thing to teach is when to ask for help and when to get the team involved in the decision-making process. If you have someone you’re nurturing to become a leader, make sure they see you asking your team to help YOU prioritize YOUR work.

We’re Leaders for a Reason

I often joke that entrepreneurs and business owners need bosses. There have been many days where I wish someone would tell me what to do at work. Now, I’m in business for myself because I didn’t want someone always telling me what to do (haha). But in some ways, asking my team to help me prioritize my tasks is asking them to help me manage myself….it’s asking them to be my boss. It’s a relief to have them tell me what I need to do sometimes!

The next time you have a list of projects to work on, or you’re just struggling with work priorities, do not overlook your team as a resource. It’s very likely that they know you well, know your work style, and know the mission, goals, and vision of the organization. Who better to help you prioritize those projects than them?