Prioritize Like a Pro: The One Question Every Leader Should Ask


Discover the one question that will help you prioritize your leadership efforts and ensure every action aligns with your mission.


Prioritize Like a Pro: The One Question Every Leader Should Ask

I was recently on a leadership coaching call. The leader on the other side of the conversation is doing a great job in a tough situation. He made some necessary decisions nine months ago, but they came with consequences.

He’s now working to rebuild portions of the organization and team.

When we met, his first question was, “How should I prioritize my time?”

Great question.

The Leadership Dilemma: Too Much to Do

Leadership isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it.

One complication of leadership is the sheer amount of tasks compared to the time available to complete them. No leader can get to everything, especially in a growing or rebuilding season.

So, how do you prioritize your time and energy?

Our temptation is to list all the things we need to do or could do and then prioritize based on what we feel is most important.

Here’s the problem: That approach can lead to prioritizing pet projects, favorite people, or low-hanging fruit. Perhaps a pet project should be highly prioritized, but how do you know?

You need a starting standard to remove your intrinsic bias. Something that cuts through the options and opportunities for you. A clarifying question to reveal what really matters.

The One Question That Clarifies Your Priorities

While working with this leader, I asked him to list all the things he could do, wanted to do, felt he should do, and felt others expected him to do.

That’s a pretty long list.

Then I asked him to filter the list through one question:

What does your mission require of you?

There are so many things he could do, so many things people expected him to do, so many things that are potentially helpful or seem beneficial. But not all things are equal. Everything he could do isn’t necessarily what he should do. At least not now.

When we look at everything that could be done and filter the list through this question, prioritization becomes much easier.

Your Primary Job as a Leader Is…

Every leader has one primary job: The mission.

The mission sets your priorities, direction, and intention. When we set (or reset) the mission as our true north, every activity, including our priorities, becomes clearer.

Who should you spend time with? Those who are most mission-critical.

What projects should you prioritize? The projects that are most mission-critical.

What problems are most important? Mission critical problems.

This question helps you prioritize today’s work, tomorrow’s work, next week’s work, and next year’s work.

Conclusion: Staying Mission-Focused

Remember, leadership is about focusing on what truly matters. By filtering your tasks through the lens of your mission, you ensure that your efforts are always aligned with your organization’s core objectives. This approach not only helps in prioritizing tasks but also in achieving long-term success.

Last Thing…

If you found this helpful, please pass it along to anyone in your circle of influence who would benefit.

You may enjoy this article on leadership development or making time for important tasks, as well.

Leading WITH You,