I’ve never walked out of an internally focused meeting that increased revenue. Yet most executives spend an astonishingly high percentage of their time on issues that are largely driven by internal needs. That’s dangerous. And it’s a leading indicator of revenue struggles. It brings to mind the saying, “There are no customers at headquarters.” Leaders must be intentional about helping the company succeed where it matters most: in the marketplace with clients.
Last month a client told me that he got “sucked in to meetings and fighting fires” all day and felt like he got nothing done. I could see he accomplished many things, but few that would have an impact on making the business more competitive. If you frequently find a large percentage of your time consumed by internal issues, you need to refocus your energy on activities that contribute to profitable revenue growth.
You do that by refocusing your attention. Remember, revenue comes from the outside, from customers buying your products and services. Not from implementing new systems, changing business processes, or other activities designed to increase operational efficiency – these internally focused activities are often time sucks that can destroy profit margins. Shift at least half of your focus outside of internal matters and channel your efforts into activities that drive revenue growth.
As management expert Peter Drucker once said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Even operational matters should have some impact on the company ability to attract and retain clients. As a leader, you are responsible for the future value of the company, not just today’s value. Create greater value by looking outside and to the horizon, versus the internal focus that masquerades as productivity.