Improving leadership through the Eisenhower Decision Matrix

It can often feel like you spend an entire day just putting out fires. Rushing from one task to the next, always busy, but never really feeling like important projects are progressing as they should.

Long hours spent dealing with every little thing as it comes to you can hinder you from achieving your goals and, as a leader, can give you tunnel vision, preventing you from overseeing your team properly or seeing the wider picture. Fortunately, there is a way to help you deal with this.

What is the Eisenhower Decision Matrix?

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Coined from this famous Eisenhower quote, this task management tool costs nothing to implement and can change how to approach a to do list. Learning that not everything that comes across your desk needs to be dealt with immediately can give you the focus a leader needs to undertake important tasks and help you learn the difference between urgency and importance.

Urgency v importance

Urgency is a word that refers to something with an immediate time limit – it needs to be done today or tomorrow. Often, it doesn’t ‘need’ to be done at all, and it is just a task that comes with a deadline. If you were to list all of your tasks now on your to do list, you could go down the list and categorise each one based on whether it is urgent or not urgent. This is how most people tackle their to do list.

But the Eisenhower Decision Matrix requires you to go back through your list and decide which tasks are important and which are not important. How do you determine what is important? Anything that is important to you, progresses your projects or moves you closer to your goals is important. Everything else is not important. You can go through your to do list and categorise each task as either important or not important.

Now, you have your tasks divided into four categories: urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent and important and, finally, not urgent and not important.

How does this make you a better leader?

You can use this Eisenhower Decision Matrix to decide which tasks to undertake, delegate, schedule and forget about. Tasks that are urgent and important are to be done immediately. Urgent but not important are to be delegated where possible, or renegotiated in terms of deadline. Not urgent but important tasks are to be scheduled in later and, finally, if a task is neither urgent nor important, it can be deferred or left.

This makes you a better leader because managing your time better means you are able to focus more clearly on the objectives of your business or team and you are better able to give your time to important projects. Also, by delegating, you are offering your trust to your employees; this will be rewarded with their hard work and gratitude for the chance to prove themselves.

For more advice and information about leadership and how to improve your leadership style, get in touch with us today.