How to Rock Your Priorities


Early on in the journey to mastering running on the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), I occasionally encounter resistance from leadership team members. During a mid-quarter check-in, they’ll complain about the “extra work” caused by their Rocks or quarterly goals. We worked hard in previous sessions to identify the MOST important priorities for the business for the next 90 days. What caused this head-scratcher? To learn how to rock your priorities, we have to get to the root cause of this common complaint.

“Rocks Take Me Away From My Real Job”

During Focus Day™ or quarterly sessions, we debate and discuss what needs to happen to move the business forward. Everyone on the leadership team agrees to the three to seven priorities for the company.

Unfortunately, many leaders who are new to EOS hold onto busy work that doesn’t have the greatest impact on company goals.

Then, roughly 45 days later, they say, “I feel like Rocks create extra work that takes me away from my real job.”

Rather than focusing their efforts on longer-term goals for the company, they work on less-impactful tasks.

And yet Rocks serve to accomplish vital work for a business. They’re the opposite of the daily tasks that consume the days of many leaders. Every person in an organization should devote roughly 20% of their work time to completing Rocks. As a Certified EOS Implementer®, I work to help leaders understand that their Rocks are their REAL JOB.

I remind my clients that we spent several hours during their quarterly meeting debating their organization’s true priorities and each leader’s priorities. So how can their Rocks be the “extra work” that interferes with their “real job?”

Making Time for Rocks

Then I see recognition sink in. Yes, they know their Rocks will impact the company the most, but they also realize they can’t do it all.

We cover ways they can set themselves up better to stop doing the daily stuff and focus on more strategic work. At EOS, we call this letting go of the vine. This letting go helps leaders rise to their full potential.

To prioritize which tasks to keep, we use a tool called Delegate and Elevate™. This tool helps people list everything they do each day, week, month, and quarter for their business. Then they separate these tasks into four categories that rank how much they enjoy something and their skill at doing it.

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Simplify Your To-Do List

With the completed Delegate and Elevate quadrant, a leader can now assess how to simplify their task list. They should aim to whittle their list of tasks down to only include items in the upper quadrants of the chart. We start by focusing on the lower quadrant tasks, ruthlessly judging them for the value they add to reach the company’s goals.

To remove a task from their list, the leader will need to do one of three things:

1. Delegate

It can feel hard for some leaders to pass off their daily tasks to someone else on their team. But I promise you, someone has that task in their top two quadrants and will happily accept ownership.

2. Automate

Sometimes a leader does a task because they’ve always done it. Leaders need to focus on working smarter, not harder. So if a task can be automated, do it.

3. Delete it!

Deleting a task can feel like the hardest step. But if a task doesn’t add value (even if it did at one point), the leader should stop doing it. Nearly every time I work with a leader to delete tasks like this, NOBODY notices, further proving its irrelevance.

The remaining tasks should represent areas where their vital work adds value to the company.

If you feel your Rocks interfere with your “real” work, ask yourself if you’re focused on the right tasks. Try the Delegate and Elevate tool for yourself to see what you can let go of in your role.

Want to learn more tricks to becoming a better leader? Download a free chapter of How to Be a Great Boss.

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