Have you ever paused to truly dissect where your time and energy flow in your professional life? In the whirlwind of daily tasks and responsibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Yet, understanding where our focus lies – whether on tasks, management or leadership – can profoundly shape our effectiveness as leaders.

In the realm of executive coaching, this isn’t just about semantics; it’s an imperative. As we guide senior leaders, we urge them to view their actions and behaviours along a continuum, where task-based work, managerial responsibilities and visionary leadership each play pivotal roles.

Imagine, at one end of this spectrum lies task-based work, a domain even CEOs cannot escape. From administrative duties and emails to budget reviews and more, this represents the personal effort we all exert in our roles. Notice how in smaller teams leaders typically do a lot of ‘doing’ as part of their job as everyone is required to pitch in.

Moving along, you can imagine managerial work – the art of achieving results through others. Here, delegation, planning, and aligning efforts come to the fore. It’s where standards are set, behaviours exemplified, and organisational impact magnified through collaboration. Managers operate within shorter timeframes, focusing on more proximal goals and objectives.

And positioned at the far-right end of the continuum is leadership which is different again. Here, leaders transcend the present, casting their gaze on the future of the organisation and its broader impact. Their perspective extends beyond quarterly targets to encompass long-term strategies, stakeholder engagement, and societal responsibility.

But let’s dispel the notion that this continuum is reserved solely for those with lofty titles. Task-based work, management and leadership are behaviours, not positions. Regardless of rank, anyone can embody these principles, driving positive change within their sphere of influence.

Nevertheless, we often notice executives faltering along this continuum and spending too much time stuck in practices that become less effective over time.

So, how do we ensure our efforts align with our intentions?

Measurement becomes our ally. By diligently tracking our time and energy expenditure, we gain clarity on where our focus truly lies. This eliminates guesswork, enabling us to recalibrate towards the areas that yield the greatest impact.

Success lies not only in where we position ourselves on the continuum but in our ability to seamlessly transition between roles as circumstances demand. It’s about embodying the right mindset and behaviours at the right moment, directing ourselves and our organisations towards the areas of greatest impact.

As executive coaches, we encourage you to remain vigilant, constantly assessing your position on the continuum and adapting your approach to drive meaningful outcomes. After all, it’s not just about where you are – it’s about where you’re headed.

Chris Corneil, ECI Partners. May 6, 2024

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