January 31

Why most leaders fail to create strategic time

Last time we talked about why your #1 KPI for future success is the amount of Strategic Time is that you can create each week.

To recap:

  • Every hour of Strategic Time is an investment in the future and, done right, will pay dividends for years to come.
  • Contrast that with doing operational work, which only gets you short-term results.

So: the more Strategic Time, the steeper your success curve.

Most people know they’re on the ‘hamster wheel’ and aren’t getting around to the strategic work. It’s why we complain about being crazy-busy.

But there’s a problem. Most leaders try to free up time by increasing their productivity and prioritising more tightly.


  • Productivity doesn’t work. You’ve probably already done many of the quick wins here. And you find that the more you accomplish the more you find there still is to do. You can never get through your to-do list.
  • Prioritisation doesn’t work. Only focusing on, say, three big priorities sounds a good idea. But the reality is that you can’t neglect other obligations for too long before you suffer unwanted consequences. As a silly example, “buying socks” will never be a top priority, but they still need buying!
  • Stakeholders are still expecting things from you. Another reason why productivity and prioritisation doesn’t work is the stakeholder context. You can’t make a big shift in how you spend your time without renegotiating your agreements with your boss, your customers, your team and your family.
  • Deep down, we’re not entirely sure freeing up ‘strategic time’ is necessary, desirable or possible. Often we actually enjoy the buzz of delivering operational work and are so focused on that we can’t actually see the bigger opportunities.
  • Perhaps your organisation is stuck in busywork or addicted to firefighting. So if you don’t help your whole team use their time more wisely, you’ll have no-one do delegate your own lower-level tasks to!

So if we want to be more strategic leaders we need a different, better, way forward.

The four-pronged strategy you actually need

Over the years I’ve helped hundreds of leaders become more strategic.

And the key insight is this:

Instead of trying to get more ‘productive’, identify which of four key areas is most holding you back right now, and work on that.

I highly recommend checking out this short video (90 seconds) where I explain this and describe the four areas:

Why most leaders fail to create strategic time

(If you’re interested in actually getting your actual score in these four areas, you’ll find instructions when you click through!)

One missing factor

Once you’ve checked out the video, you’ll have understood the four pillars that underpin high-end strategic focus.

But there’s still one thing missing from the model. 😳

It’s an essential component that all strategic leaders get clear on, and I’m curious to see if you’ve spotted it yet?

PLUS, whenever you're ready, why not hit the accelerator on your journey of exponential impact by working with us, or by picking up a copy of Making TIME For Strategy?

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