Your role as a business leader is one of constant decision-making and action-taking. Each day presents new challenges, opportunities, and uncertainties that require careful consideration. And, it’s important you define whether these actions and decisions are bogging you down in the day-to-day, or aligning with the growth and success of your business.
As a business leader, evaluating the outcomes of your decisions and actions at the end of each day is crucial for steering your organisation towards sustainable growth, and understanding where you should be focussing your efforts.
We’ve written this guide covering the importance of assessing your workday as a business leader, distinguishing between growth-oriented decisions and reactive firefighting, and we’ve outlined 3 ways you can make your day more productive.
The Art of Decision-Making
Effective decision-making is at the heart of every successful business leader’s skill set. When evaluating your workday to be more productive, it’s essential to assess the quality of the decisions you made.
Were they well-researched, data-driven, and aligned with the long-term vision of the company, or were they impulsive reactions to immediate challenges? Reflecting on your decision-making process helps you identify patterns and areas for improvement.
A growth-oriented decision is one that contributes to the advancement of the business. These decisions are guided by a clear understanding of the company’s goals and a strategic plan for achieving them. For instance, working on a new product line, expanding into new markets, or investing in employee development programs are all examples of growth-oriented decisions that will impact your company in the long term.
When assessing your workday, consider the impact of such decisions on the business. Did your actions create opportunities for expansion, innovation, or increased market share? Did they align with your overarching business strategy? Did you assess where they sit on the Urgent/Important scale?
A growth-oriented decision may not yield immediate results, but it sets the stage for sustainable success.
On the other side of the spectrum are reactive firefighting actions. These are often knee-jerk responses to unexpected problems that demand immediate attention to be dealt with quickly. While it’s necessary to handle emergencies, a workday dominated by reactive actions can hinder long-term growth. Plus, when you assess these tasks on a scale of urgent to important, it can quickly become clear that, while they may appear to need your attention, they can be dealt with at a later date, or delegated where necessary.
Examples could include resolving customer complaints or handling internal conflicts.
During your evaluation, scrutinise how much time and energy you spent on reactive tasks. Were these issues preventable through better planning or proactive measures? Or could they have been delegated to someone else? While firefighting is unavoidable, minimising its occurrence and impact on your day as a business leader can free up resources for a more strategic approach that benefits your business in the long term.
Balancing Act: Striking a Proactive Approach
Striking a balance between growth-oriented decisions and reactive firefighting is key to a successful workday as a business leader. Here are strategies to cultivate a more proactive approach:
- Priority Setting: By regularly reviewing your actions and decisions that day, you can explore what is working well and what isn’t allowing you to begin the next day by identifying the most critical tasks aligned with your strategic goals. This ensures that important growth-oriented decisions receive the attention they deserve.
- Data-Informed Decision-Making: Rely on data and insights to guide your choices. This reduces the likelihood of impulsive reactions and fosters a more calculated approach, allowing you to focus on work you know will reap rewards.
- Delegate and Empower: Empower your team to handle routine issues and minor crises. This frees up your time to focus on high-impact decisions that drive growth and reduces the chances of distracting issues ending up in your inbox.
- Scenario Planning: Anticipate potential challenges and develop contingency plans. Being prepared allows you to handle crises more efficiently and minimise their impact on your day.
- Regular Reviews: Carve out time in your diary each day to conduct periodic reviews of your decisions and actions each day. Assess whether they align with your growth objectives and adjust your approach accordingly.
- Long-Term Vision: Keep the long-term vision of the company at the forefront of your mind. Evaluate decisions based on their potential to contribute to that vision rather than addressing short-term hurdles.
- Learning Culture: Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within your organisation and teams. Encourage open communication, feedback, and a willingness to adapt.
Our Top 3 Ways To Be More Productive
In order to get the most out of your evaluating time, ensure you’re aligning your work with your growth targets and getting the most learning opportunities out of all this, it’s important to take a structured approach.
This may vary depending on what you as an individual find suits you best, so we’ve included our top recommendations.
Time Tracking and Analysis:
Your time is valuable and the more time you spend on firefighting, the less time you have to allocate to business growth. By being aware of where you’re spending your time, you can start to understand bottlenecks and explore better ways of delegating tasks you shouldn’t be focussing on.
- Use time-tracking tools or techniques to monitor how you allocate your time throughout the day.
- Categorise your activities into segments such as strategic planning, meetings, problem-solving, and administrative.
- Analyse the distribution of your time to identify areas where you might be spending too much time on reactive tasks or administrative work, and not enough on strategic initiatives.
Outcome vs. Effort Matrix:
You can analyse the value of tasks you’re dedicating your time to by assessing how much effort you’re putting into them, vs the long term growth value you can allocate to them. This will help you further understand whether it’s worth you dealing with these pieces of work, or if they may be better addressed when delegated, or mitigated in some way.
- Create a matrix that assesses each task or decision based on its outcome and the effort required.
- Place tasks in quadrants: High Outcome, Low Effort; High Outcome, High Effort; Low Outcome, Low Effort; Low Outcome, High Effort.
- Focus on tasks that fall into the “High Outcome, Low Effort” quadrant, as these are likely to contribute most significantly to business growth.
One effective method for improving discipline is the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix, learn more in our guide here.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Review:
By linking the tasks you perform each day back to your KPIs, you can get a strong understanding of whether the tasks you’re performing are indeed reactive, or proactively designed to reach your business goals.
- Identify key performance indicators relevant to your business’s goals (e.g., revenue growth, customer acquisition, employee satisfaction).
- Regularly review KPIs to assess whether your daily decisions and actions are positively impacting these metrics.
- Adjust your approach based on the trends and insights revealed by the KPI data.
If you want to get more out of your goal setting, check out our full guide to setting goals and achieving them here.
Evaluating your workday as a business leader is a fundamental practice that separates growth-focused leaders from those who find they’re spending their time on the back foot.
By distinguishing between growth-oriented decisions and reactive firefighting, you gain valuable insights into your leadership style and its impact on your organisation’s trajectory. Striving for a proactive approach enables you to steer your business towards sustained growth, innovation, and success.