This week, we’ve introduced the term “autopilot” in various social media posts.
Some things are good to have on autopilot: Monthly recurring bill payments, a healthy diet and exercise regime, your sleep and wake schedule.
Life and business though… different story. “Set it and forget it,” shouldn’t be a signature management style, and autopilot is incompatible with high-impact leadership.
Recall that our cognitive biases and the heuristics we use (and that are used on us), can shortcut and short circuit your decision-making process. It’s easier, yes, but easier is rarely the path that leads to goals or growth.
Whether your goals are personal or professional, you should have a basic system or framework to help you set and prioritize your goals. With any such system, you should be able to complete the following list.
If you cannot complete this list, do not worry. It is ok. It simply means that there might be some areas to explore for greater clarity, perspective, or accountability.
Sample Goals Framework:
My/Our top (personal / professional) priority right now is __________.
It is my/our top priority because __________.
To reach this goal, I/we must _________, and __________, and __________.
My/Our deadline is __________.
My/Our measurement of success is ________.
Now, the list above is an oversimplification, and keep in mind that the path to our goals is not linear.
You should absolutely make strategic use of “set it and forget it”. But this list can be used as a starting point for any new or upgraded management or leadership methodology.
The ability to create thoughtful, self-reinforcing systems that produce consistent, predictable outcomes is a hallmark of good businesses and high-impact leadership.
The benefits of systems and frameworks go beyond just clarity around your goals. A good, rigorous analysis will also tell you (and your team) what you are NOT doing because you will have considered, weighed, and debated the other options available to you.
I’ve written about how a team of advisors is an asset of tremendous value to create perspective and improve outcomes. Trusted individuals with relevant knowledge can and should be a part of your system.
From a leadership perspective, clarity makes it far easier to communicate why decisions are made and why changes are necessary when you can explain them in the context of your core mission, or long-term goals.
Good communication helps create buy-in and accountability by giving people's actions clear purpose and direction.
Finally, change is a constant in life, so even the best systems require refinement from time to time. Be sure to check on both your systems and the people operating them regularly. Consider ways that good becomes better, and better becomes best-in-class.
About the Author:
Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, coaching, athletics, and other disciplines. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.
Ascent Consultants provides business and project management consulting services, and executive and leadership development coaching. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we lead companies and individuals to extraordinary outcomes.