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In my most recent book, SuperCompetent (John Wiley and Sons, 2010), I identified and described six keys that anyone can use in the workplace to maximize their performance: Activity, Availability, Attention, Accessibility, Accountability, and Attitude. Recently, I’ve been considering how all six affect C-Suite executives—that is, upper-level executives like the CEO, CFO, CIO, Presidents, VPs, and Directors. What issues, concerns, and challenges do senior leaders face in these areas?

As it turns out, these concepts look a bit different at the highest levels, so the standard approaches don’t necessary apply. In many cases, even the names have to be changed. This is why, at the C-Suite level, I prefer to refer to my keys as Prioritization, Scheduling, Focus, Organization, Efficiency, and Attitude, respectively.

In this eBook, I’ll take a look at the C-Suite version of Activity: Prioritization.

Key #1: Activity—Prioritization

In general, Prioritization is the order in which you organize those things most important to you: your religion, your family, your life goals, your daily work. It’s necessary to look closely at each one, and determine which items need to come first and how everything else should follow. All these categories are important, of course, but what we’re concerned with in this venue is the business aspect of the equation.

In the work arena, Prioritization may involve several different levels of responsibility, starting with the personal Activity standards required of any effective individual: a strong sense of self-discipline, written goals, strict to-do lists, a tight focus, and a drive for efficiency, just to name a few. However, in my opinion the most significant level of C-Suite Prioritization is the order in which you prioritize your organization’s operations and projects (at least those within your bailiwick). This involves careful, long-term planning in which cost/benefit analyses, delivery timeframes, resource allocation, and similar factors have to be taken into consideration for new projects, along with the organization (and reorganization) of existing projects for which all of the above have already been taken into account.

Large-scale Prioritization is rarely a solitary exercise. While you may or may not have the authority to prioritize by fiat, in most cases the most logical method is to sit down with the high-level stakeholders of the projects at hand (Directors, VPs, etc.) and hammer out which ones need to come first and why. If nothing else, this kind of review can make it easier for the executive team up the ladder to make its final decisions, and it prepares you to spring into action once those decisions have been made.

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