I spent the day in Sydney with a small group of ethics & compliance officers (ECOs). As we discussed the role of an ECO, how to create an ethical culture, and how to deploy policies in a global organization, I was reminded of an important leadership guideline: select only a handful of priorities and dedicate the majority of your communications to them.
We’ve all heard the expression “When everything is important, nothing is important.” In the E&C world, not knowing how to prioritize our activities can have major consequences. It is thus critical for leaders to clearly communicate their priorities – with words, of course, but more importantly by their actions. Employees are always scanning their environment to detect what is important to their boss.
In my experience, it is most effective to have three or four priorities and to communicate about one or more of them on a daily basis. Employees who are asked to juggle more balls than they can handle must know which ones they can drop if need be. Otherwise, they are likely to drop the wrong one, at great cost to them and to the organization.