Leadership Skills – Lesson 3

Leadership Skills

Like most people, you like getting things done, and you also want to enjoy life. However, learning how to do those things you MUST do, as efficiently as possible, and feeling confident and relaxed as you go about doing them, in the knowledge that nothing has fallen through the cracks, is a goal we all struggle to reach.

Consider the following points:

questionAre you left-brained or right-brained?
When do you do your best work, early in the morning or late in the day?
Do you set goals for yourself?
How do you organize your workspace?
What do you think are good ways to manage your time effectively?

We’ve included some points to think about:

“Time is like money. The less we have of it to spare, the further we make it go.”
Josh Billings – Build On Your Leadership Skills

Left Brain and Right Brain

Traditional time management wisdom seems to work well for about half the population, while others listen or read about planning, prioritizing, scheduling, and doing, and then turn back to their normal way of doing things: notes tacked to every available surface, piles of paper everywhere, and several projects in the air at any given time.

These two kinds of people are sometimes labeled left brain and right brain.

Strongly left-brained people see things as black and white. For them, time flows in monochromic order: they do one thing and then they go on to another. Like Jack Webb in the old Dragnet movies says, “Just give us the facts, ma’am.”

More right-brained people have the ability to see options at every turn. For them, things are rarely black and white, and their time is polychromic, with many things happening simultaneously. They can not only talk and drive a car at the same time; they can watch TV and read.

Do you already know which type you are? The key to managing time more effectively is determining which type is more predominantly you and then trying to incorporate ideas from both types.

Larks and Owls

Larks can come in to work and get right down to their tasks, providing they have paved the way by getting themselves organized the day before, before they head for home. Owls may need a little longer to get going. A coffee and the newspaper can be a good way of launching their day but they may need an alarm to remind them when it is time to get started.


Goals should be SMART.


When we make our goals too general we aren’t able to visualize them, and if we can’t see them, we have a hard time devoting our efforts toward reaching them. We are more apt to do a good job of redecorating the bathroom if we have a picture in our mind of how it will look when it’s done.


If we can’t measure a goal, we have no idea how close we are getting to reaching it, and that can be de-motivating. For example, let’s say you have decided you will save some money from every paycheck in order to take a vacation this summer. But if you don’t set a specific amount each pay, and you don’t have an amount you want to reach, you are less apt to put the money away.


We sometimes think that we should set high targets or goals for ourselves in order to grow and stretch. Well, we do want to grow and stretch, but if we set goals that aren’t doable, we soon get discouraged and we stop trying. The really high achievers in the world know this. They set goals that they know they can reach, with a little stretching, and when they get there, they set another goal they know they can reach. They climb the mountain one foot at a time.


Goals have to make sense and have some importance, or they will soon be discarded. Set goals that make sense to you. (Another word that is often used for the R in this acronym is Realistic.)


Put a deadline on your goals. Deadlines are great for getting things done.

You should also remember the three P’s:

  • Put these goals in writing, so everyone will remember them all the time.
  • Goals should be expressed positively, as positive energy goes further than negative energy, and positive energy stays with us longer.
  • Finally, goals should be personal. You are not as likely to reach goals somebody else sets for you. Keep this important fact when you are working with your employees to set goals. Don’t set them for them; help them set their own.

Goal and target setting are basic tenets of performance management and as such, deserves more than cursory attention.

Organizing Your Workspace

Getting rid of clutter is one of the best things we can do to make a more efficient work environment.

Think about your desk in your workplace. The object is to purge both the work surface and the contents of the desk. If the surface is already clear – great! However, if there are items on the desk, ask yourself if they are necessary and/or in an effective location.


Check position of the desk: Is it facing the door and making interruptions more likely?
Is the lighting adequate?
Is the phone where it can be reached easily?
Is there a better arrangement possible?
Is the seating/chair adequate?

Your first step should be to get rid of things that should NOT be on the desk. Check everywhere.
Look under the blotter, on the walls surrounding the desk, in trays, etc. Collect all bits and pieces and de-clutter by throwing out or noting information in an appropriate spot and discarding it, or filing it for the moment.
Then move to the contents of the desk. Focus first on the tools you use, such as pens, pencils, and erasers.

Check to make sure of the following:

  • You have all tools you need, and they are in good working order.
  • Tools are organized so like tools are together and easily accessible. Useless tools should be discarded or moved to an area to be fixed.
  • Group like items together (for example, stationery, envelopes, and stamps all in one drawer).
  • Store any oversupply in a supply area.
  • Tools are stored in a shallow desk drawer and are not on the desk.

One way to organize yourself is to make four piles of all the papers you have strewn around, including those on the bulletin board, under your ink blotter or desk calendar, and on chairs.

  • Take home/get out of office
  • Help yourself/giveaways to colleagues
  • Cool stuff you want to keep and display
  • Things to be filed or written into your planner

Set up a system where vital information is saved where it can be readily found, and then bits of paper can be discarded. Clutter often prevents us from using our time efficiently.

Our Top Time Management Tip

One of our favorite ways to stay organized and manage your time is the five minutes method.

Whenever you have a task to do that you’re dreading or can’t seem to find the time for, take five minutes at the end of the hour and get started on it. This is particularly effective for simple chores like cleaning off your desk or setting up your planner for the next day.