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4 Critical Ways to Be a Better Leader This Year

Every leader must balance their time between the short term and the future


All leaders experience the pressure of day-to-day work. But they also know the importance of strategic work. The biggest problem is that typically, the day-to-day work gets their attention. 

In other words, the least important work is getting the best of your attention. The items on your to-do list are important — they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. However, the truly visionary work that leaders must do is pushed aside. Like Stephen Covey’s “urgent versus important” time management matrix, described in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, leaders are losing the forest for the trees.

I coach founders and CEOs to focus on strategic leadership. They know it’s critical, but they also have logical reasons for why it’s not getting done. I uncover the real reason. Without intervention, leaders will avoid strategic activities and focus on their to-do list. 

This avoidance usually comes down to fear. Focusing on day-to-day work is easier and more predictable. Strategic work is harder, carrying more risk. That fear is amplified as companies grow and the risk of big decisions increases. 

Here are four traits to overcome your fear and expand your capacity to be strategic: 

1. Let go of the day-to-day.

The ability to step back from immediate work is an underdeveloped skill. There’s fear that no one can do it as well or as fast as you can. This trap keeps leaders focused on details and status updates. I talked with a potential client who was wrapped up in invoicing, yet he complained he didn’t have time to sell. It was clear that he prioritized small tasks and failed to commit to the work that would grow the company.

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