Sunday, March 7, 2010

Leaders’ Two To-Do Lists

I believe, and I talk about it when I present or write about leadership, that all of us have the potential to be leaders. I also believe that healthy organizations need leaders at every level and in every job. But it is also true that some positions have ‘leader’ attached to them – positions like ‘president’, ‘vice-president’, and ‘director’ just to name a few. Positions with these titles and more like them require leadership.

Every job has ‘tasks’, those things on the ‘to do’ list. Some jobs have very clearly defined tasks, some tasks are not as clear-cut, but all jobs have tasks specific to the job. However, when you take on a position that has ‘leader’ attached to the title, it is important to understand the different expectations that then come along with the position. It’s similar to the situation that can occur when someone who is a great technician is promoted to supervisor and finds out that a supervisory job requires different skills. There are tasks to be done and there is supervision.

In a leadership position it is important to be excellent at the tasks of the job, but that is not enough. And while it’s a much different list than a task list, there is a list of sorts for leaders. Here are just a few items from that list:

Understand the strategic mission of the larger organization, know how your department fits into that mission and help the members of your department understand.

Engage in work that is beyond the scope of your specific department – it helps you learn more about your organization and it is a way to develop relationships with others that will support your work and that of the larger organization.

Support the work of staff to help them engage in the larger work of the organization and to have the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Those are just a few of the tasks on the list of those who take on positions that have leader attached to them. There are many more and it’s important to understand that so you have some idea of what you are taking on when you say yes to the opportunity. It’s also important to know that this list applies whether the leadership position is your job or a volunteer position.

Two to-do lists for leaders. What’s on your to-do lists? Are you paying as much attention to the leader’s list as you are to the task list? Shouldn’t you be?

Take care,


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