Leaders make decisions. In fact, leaders are called upon to make hundreds of decisions every day. Some of these decisions are more critical than others. Nonetheless, all decisions require you to think and to act. You might say that your decisions and the consequences of those decisions are what truly define you as a leader.
As your club's leader, you make decisions when you set goals and objectives, manage finances, establish and implement branding and marketing strategies, manage safety and risk issues, oversee repair and maintenance issues, and implement public relations activities, among many other responsibilities.
Your time is consumed by decisionmaking. What if you are focusing too much time on making the wrong kinds of decisions? What if you are making good decisions, but spending too much of your limited time on the things that matter least rather than on the things that matter most? At the end of the day, your results best reflect whether you were making consistently good decisions on the things that matter most.
The typical day in the life of a fitness center manager may start with you entering the club with your mind set on accomplishing various pre-planned goals and tasks. But then you observe a few maintenance or repair issues on the way to your office. You then are stopped by an employee or two with issues as well as a member or two with concerns. You arrive at your desk to find numerous emails and voicemails, and you have a meeting in five minutes.
Already, you are sidetracked from your pre-planned tasks. And even more challenging days start with various crises, such as a medical emergency, a maintenance emergency, a financial emergency or a human resource emergency.
You cannot handle every item on your to-do list every day. The moment you clear away a bunch of the minor tasks, many more pour in to fill the void. To truly be an effective decision-maker, you ultimately must choose the decisions you will make rather than letting them choose you.
In other words, you must make time each day to consciously re-evaluate your decisions and prioritize them so that you get better at focusing your attention on the things that matter most rather than on the things that matter least.
Consider the following factors when evaluating the order in which you will address decisions:
- Is this a life-threatening emergency?
- Is this a job-threatening emergency?
- Is this an important client relationship emergency?
- Is this an important employee retention emergency?
- Is this an urgent financial issue?
- Is this an urgent sales issue?
- Is this a legal emergency?
- Can this be postponed a few days or a few hours without significant negative consequences?
- Can you make a quick phone call or send a quick email to buy a little more time before facing this particular issue?
- Can you delegate this to another manager or staff person?
- Can you schedule an appointment to block time to properly address the issue?
Once you take the time to carefully consider the consequences of decisions and re-prioritize them according to their likely consequences, your effectiveness and results will improve. You will get the most important things done in a timely manner. That will translate to more sales, better financial performance, less drama with staff and members, fewer accidents, better member and client relationships and more proactive attention to customer service, resulting in fewer issues.
In essence, the better you become at prioritizing and re-prioritizing the decisions that you face daily, the better your results in all areas of the business. This may just be the most important skill that you must possess or develop as a leader in any profession. You can be a hard-working, dedicated manager, trying your best at all times, but if you allow your time to be consumed with things that matter least while unintentionally neglecting those that matter most, you ultimately will never reach your peak performance level.
How you spend your time is ultimately up to you.