The Leadership Quadrant

I’ve written before about Stephen Covey’s four quadrants from his impactful book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Recently, Covey’s four quadrants, especially one quadrant in particular, have been the focus of many of my coaching sessions. This quadrant and the work done (or not done) in this arena is critical to being not only effective, but impactful. This quadrant is also the most essential when it comes to leadership, which is why I call it theLeadership Quadrant.

Here is a simple version of Covey’s four quadrants:

Many of you have seen these quadrants before, and here’s my quick overview of each one:

  • Quadrant 1– Essential Quadrant – If it’s important andurgent, then you better be spending lots of time here. This quadrant is often an easy one to focus on because the urgency is typically externally driven by some sort of deadline.
  • Quadrant 2– Leadership Quadrant (more on this below)
  • Quadrant 3– Rare Quadrant – I have found it difficult to find many things that are urgent, but not important. Therefore, I doubt that you spend much time here unless you or someone else has wrongly determined something not important to be urgent.
  • Quadrant 4– Time Wasting Quadrant – This is the area of work where you waste the most time since many of these items either need to be delegated or perhaps not done at all (certainly not with any priority).

And now let’s focus on the Leadership Quadrant.

I call quadrant 2 the Leadership Quadrant because it’s the area where the work is important, but it’s not urgent, which means that we often fail to give these items the time, energy and attention that they warrant. While they actually are urgent in the sense that their everyday importance gives them urgency, they rarely have external deadlines to force us to focus on them (e.g. filing deadlines, bid deadlines, clear commitments to clients and customers, brand promises, etc.). Here’s a short list of the types of things that fall into this quadrant:

  • Planning
  • Feedback
  • Mentoring
  • Sales / Business Development(especially if you work in a profession where your primary focus is delivering some service or advice)
  • Follow Up
  • Training

Wow – that’s some important stuff, and yet we often fail to give it the time and attention that it clearly warrants.

I call this the Leadership Quadrant for two reasons. First, most of the items listed above are clearly the functions of leadership. Second, it takes leadership to instill a sense of urgency in ourselves and our team members for areas that do not have some type of external deadline. Thus, having a sense of urgency and instilling that sense of urgency within others are leadership mindsets and responsibilities.

Are you investing in the Leadership Quadrant in your business or role? Are you making sure that you prioritize the Leadership Quadrant and the work it includes? Are you instilling the critical sense of urgency in your team, especially regarding the work in the Leadership Quadrant? Whether you have a leadership title or position or not, I encourage you to focus and even fixate on the abounding opportunities of the Leadership Quadrant in order to accelerate your business and impact.

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