Leaders know that big things only happen only important things get done. Sadly, important things are often overshadowed by urgent things. How can a leader begin to prioritise what’s important over what’s merely urgent?  At GLS 2012, Bill Hybels (Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church) explained a helpful tool for accomplishing important things: 6×6 Execution. He also outlines 6×6 in his book Leadership Axioms.

Bill says that you, as the leader, are the most difficult person you will ever lead. Think about it.

Many leaders assume that their most important leadership asset is their time. Bill disagrees. He believes it’s a leader’s energy and ability to mobilise people – including ourselves – and new initiatives. What is unique about a leader is his / her energising capabilities.

How do you prioritise your leadership responsibilities? Who or what are you energising?

Bill prioritises this way:
6 things he wants to achieve in 6 weeks to progress the things most important to advancing ministry in his church. Then he sets about directing his energy into those areas and not into secondary considerations.

You may not achieve all 6 of the priorities every 6 weeks, but if you plan it well, you’ll have a realistic, achievable target.

There’s nothing magical or spiritual about six weeks. It’s just a good length of time for keeping urgency high. And six priorities is a reasonable number of priorities to realistically focus on. Nobody can sprint for six months, but you can sprint for six weeks.

What are six things that will most impact your leadership context in the next six weeks?

Once you know, like Bill, you’ll be able to work with tremendous focus. Make a decision to not worry about the full year, just the next 6 weeks – basically a school term.  This can be really liberating.

I think it’s safe to say that we can be pretty certain that our year – any year – is going to be full of changes! The landscape is constantly changing – the targets keep moving. God didn’t make you a leader to “respond to stuff” all day. He made you a leader to move things ahead!

Energy… focus… priorities… movement. These are familiar concepts for leaders, but are they translated into daily effort? You leadership matters more than you think it does. Figure out the top 6 things that need to be progressed and then invest energy in the people who can accomplish them.

You aren’t a leader to preside, but to move people from a current reality to a preferred future.

Some benefits…
At the end of the 6 weeks, it’s helpful to spend a team meeting sharing your 6×6 lists with each other. This can have the following positive effects:

  • You’re more inclined to prioritise what’s important but doesn’t feel urgent. For example, my 6×6 list usually includes a goal that develops my own ministry / leadership capacity. This is never urgent. Using 6×6 helps me to prioritise this important goal and “sharpen the saw”.
  • Team members appreciate one another’s work. Every 6 weeks, you’re hearing about crucial things your teammates are working on. This allows you to esteem and encourage one another rather than suspiciously think, “What exactly do they do anyway?”
  • It helps to maintain a focus on people. The 6×6 exercise can become purely “operational”. But you can use it as a way to prioritise spending time with people and to prioritise equipping.
  • You can experience healthy accountability. Some teams write their 6×6 priorities on the office whiteboard. It’s there every day when they come in and it’s there when others visit. If you don’t accomplish one of your six priorities, it will get noticed. Therefore, there’s a healthy accountability to get things done.

As an example, here’s a recent 6×6 of mine:

  1. Finalise and launch website (the one you’re currently visiting)
  2. Finalise marketing collateral for GLS events
  3. Update HR policies
  4. IT update and maintenance
  5. Monthly financial reports
  6. Brochure design for online workshops

In our remaining years, let’s try to be the best leaders we can possibly be. Let’s do everything we can to operate at peak potential and see lives impacted as a result.

If you could accomplish one important thing over the next 6 weeks, what would it be?

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