13th February 2020
Over the last few days, I have been thinking about the importance of learning to prioritise. Last Thursday, I was asked if I could read and comment on a book before it goes to print in a few weeks’ time. Although I am busy preparing for a 22-day trip to Africa and my diary is full, I instinctively knew that this was something I should make time for – even if it meant I had to get up extra early or drop something else in order to do it.
This morning, one of our young leaders asked if he could defer a report he had been asked to deliver tomorrow, since he had a full day of meetings ahead and several other things to do. I persuaded him that it would be better to postpone other tasks than to miss this particular deadline.
Knowing what to prioritise is a constant leadership challenge. It is something I often address with our younger leaders. Only last week I spoke to our staff about the importance of knowing when to say no, whilst also being aware that sometimes working extra hours is totally appropriate.
When everything on your to-do list is screaming for your attention it can be difficult to distinguish between what must be done now and what can be left. You need to consider both the nature of the task and who has asked you to do it. I have written before about how I assign tasks an ‘A, B or C’ priority. But learning what to prioritise involves more than this – it also requires the ability to be flexible and adjust quickly. Good leaders are able to make changes to their diaries when a greater need arises; they know when to push one thing back and bring another forward.
With a little bit of work, I have been able to adjust my diary and make space to read my friend's book. And I am pleased to say that the young leader I talked to this morning was able to defer other tasks in order to deliver the report on time. The art of prioritisation may involve some difficult decisions. But it is an essential skill to develop if we are to be effective and fruitful in our areas of responsibility.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.