Leaders Needs to Split Their Time Between Execution Today and Future Planning

If you’re a leader in a growing company, at any level, you need to spend some of your time working on the future, not just executing for today.

That can feel impossible when the mountain of urgent execution tasks can take up every waking hour. But that’s an excuse.

Every leader, from a team leader to the CEO, needs to execute today’s jobs well to get stuff done, make the numbers, and deliver on your customer promise.

AND every leader also has to prepare for the change coming next year: What do I/we need to do now to be ready for next year when things will be different?

It’s true that if you fall behind and mess up today, you won’t be the leader very long. Crises and big projects can consume all your time and energy, too.

Survival is necessary but not sufficient. Next year will come quickly and you need to have done the work to be ready for it or you’ll be on your heels again.

  • Do you have the right leaders and team members who can be successful when your company is twice as big?
  • Do you have the right organization, systems, and culture to improve execution even when your team triples?
  • Do the CEO and leaders know how their jobs will change as they grow? Are they doing some of the work now to create those skills
  • Is your company strategy, positioning, and focus ready for when your company is 2 or 4 times bigger?
  • How will my department change in the next 1-2 years? Are we ready for that?

Leaders need to spend some time thinking about, working on, researching, and aligning to be ready for when tomorrow comes. Those who don’t will be left behind.

Common Excuse # 1: “I’m too busy with today that I don’t have time to work on tomorrow!”

Nice try. We know you’re busy and falling behind, but some of that is because you didn’t plan well to succeed where you are now. Really.

Your job is to succeed today AND prepare for the new future. Mine too.

Common Excuse # 2: “I don’t do execution stuff, I only do future and strategy.” This is total BS for leaders running things. You have to do both.

I haven’t met any leader yet who was great at strategy (tomorrow) but wasn’t great at execution (today). They are two sides of the same coin: you have to do both well enough to play the game well.

Strategy is just the decisions you make to improve execution.

So, you have to know execution well to execute strategy well.

In general, the higher up you are in a company, the more time you spend thinking about and working on the future. Increase it when your company is growing 100% or more a year.

The first-time SaaS CEOs I know who are successfully growing through different growth stages spend 20-40% of their time working on the plan for their 1-3 year future and developing themselves to be ready.

Books, advisors, conferences, peer groups, mentors. Thinking time, customer time, and leadership discussion time. Being open to change.

This isn’t optional. Be ready-ish for tomorrow or you won’t succeed there.


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