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3 Things Successful Leaders Keep In Mind Even When Things Go Wrong

3 Things Successful Leaders Keep In Mind Even When Things Go Wrong

Nobody has a Midas touch. Even successful leaders and great teams have bad days. That is just the way it works. Sometimes things go wrong because of unforeseeable circumstances and sometimes things happen because someone in the team made a mistake.

Whatever the reason, the extent of the negative impact caused by such bad times is heavily influenced by how the leaders reacts to what happened. Successful leaders know that their team members places a lot of importance on what they say during testing times. They also know that team members place an even higher level of importance on how leaders say what they say – their body language, level of stress, tone of voice and other subtle cues mean a lot.

Here are three things successful leaders keep in mind during such situations:

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1. Successful leaders know they have to bring calm and confidence

When things go wrong, not everyone reacts the same. Those that lose their calm or those that panic can set a bad precedent for those that are on the edge. When issues are left unaddressed, a team can tend to focus on the negative – so much so, that the project comes to a standstill.

Successful leaders arrest the slide quickly by bringing calm and confidence to the team.

With their experience, they can make a quick impact analysis of the damage. Since they have the trust of team members with influence, they bring the group together and get their buy-in on the next immediate steps. Once the core team members are calm and confident the rest of the team follows suit.

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For more information about presenting a calm and confident manner, see this article.

2. Successful leaders know to shift the focus on what’s next

When things go wrong, spending an unreasonable amount of time on forensic analysis is time unproductively spent- the team could be focused on recovering from the problem. Every minute counts. Good leaders know that if they let things get out of hand, they will turn the issue into a bigger crisis as projects that depended on the current problematic project being completed start to slip.

Successful leaders know that the right thing to do is to focus on what to do next, using whatever resources are available at their disposal.

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Analysis needs to be done in parallel with this action, or postponed to a time after the current project is back on track.

3. Successful leaders bring their learning from these experiences to future projects

Failures, crises, mishaps and other such events, teach a lot of lessons. Leaders know that it’s easy to blame someone or something else and move on. That would be a colossal waste, of course. Successful leaders reflect on what happened, what lessons are to be learned from what happened and how not to repeat the same mistakes next time around.

Even when things went wrong due to things outside of their control, they think about how to factor in such risks and account for them in their planning for future projects.

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Bonus Item:

4. Successful leaders remember to refine their assumptions next time around

One of the major below-the-surface reasons for things going wrong is the presence of faulty assumptions to start with. Either the leader or an influential team member made one or more assumptions that didn’t turn out the way they wished.

When things go wrong, successful leaders go back to the drawing board and think about what assumptions were made and why they turned out to be faulty. Revisiting the assumptions will help them to refine their judgments when they are working on future projects.

Remember:

A rising tide lifts every boat. When things are going well, even mediocre leaders can come across as rock stars.  When things go wrong, every leader gets tested and the successful leaders stand out from the pack based on how they react and get their teams back on track.

Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

More to Help You Achieve More in Less Time

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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