Written by Sajid Alimohamed on April 9th 2018

Are you a Proactive Leader or a Reactive Manager?

According to Stephen Covey in his book “The 7 Habits for Managers” there are 4 types of tasks –
Q1: Urgent and Important,
Q2: Not Urgent and Important,
Q3: Urgent and Not Important and
Q4: Not Urgent and Not Important.

Urgent and Important tasks (Q1) are the tasks that show up at any given time that need to be dealt with immediately. These are the crises or fires that need to be put out because they are delaying things from moving forward and are affecting productivity and bottom line.

A flat tire needs to be dealt with immediately to complete your deliveries

Website down and must get back online immediately for your e-commerce business

Reports and presentations need to be prepared for your emergency meeting that is taking place later this afternoon

Not doing these tasks will jeopardize the success of a fundamental project, task, team, etc. While these tasks are extremely important, most managers find themselves stuck spending the majority of their time in this quadrant.

The Not Urgent but Important tasks (Q2) are most critical for your proactive growth and success. These tasks are the proactive tasks that improve your vision and efficiency. 

They include defining and aligning with your personal vision and the vision of the people you work with, building systems to make work efficient and to prevent the regular occurrence of crises, building key relationships, improving team morale and more. Leadership does not begin until you create space in your schedule to perform these tasks. This quadrant is often easy to neglect because of Urgent and Important crises that are forever looming. Some of the potential negative results of neglecting this quadrant include:

High employee turnover and low morale due to a lack of understanding of company values or missed opportunity to recognize the potential of a great worker who is aligned with the company values

Inefficiencies that take away from your financial bottom line

Missing out synergies and market place opportunities due to a lack of direction and observance of changes to the market place

As you can see from this list, no manager can afford to neglect these tasks.

The Not Urgent and Not Important (Q4) tasks such as following people on Instagram/Facebook/You Tube, frequently listening to the News and getting caught up in What's App messages or the gossip at the water cooler are easy to recognize and should be minimized or eliminated altogether.

The Urgent but Not Important tasks (Q3) are the trickiest of tasks. They appear to be important because of their urgent nature but they do not make up part of your priorities. These are the tasks that you do out of consideration for others and their crises, without realizing how badly they affect your productivity. Even though these tasks are not relevant to your success, they somehow find their way on your To Do List. Some examples of these are:

Attending irrelevant and time consuming meetings

Following company protocols and bureaucracy that take time

Following up with low priority emails, phone calls, and text or social media messages

A task you have been asked to take on that does not match your objectives and you were not able to refuse taking it on.

We often fall into the trap of performing the ‘Urgent and Not Important tasks’ that can be delayed or passed on to others instead of deciding to LEAD and focus on what is Important! 

There are always more tasks to do than time to do them, so it is essential to become disciplined and prioritize your use of time effectively. To survive in business, we must be proactive, disciplined leaders that plan, engage and motivate teams, instead of managers who put out fires. In this way we will find continued success and lead more fulfilling lives.

Sajid Alimohamed

Sajid Alimohamed helps youth, young adults, professionals and business owners build their leadership capacity and become engaging leaders. He is an expert at helping his clients Lead themselves, their lives and the teams that they work with to have directed and fulfilling lives.
If you're interested in building your leadership capacity and living your life in the most fulfilling way then reach out by clicking on 'Contact' and schedule an exploratory call today.
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