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The Leader’s Hour

New Year's Dog

Did you set some New Year’s Resolutions? If you’re a leader with any sphere of influence under you, this season has been more than just a season of New Year’s Resolutions. There’s been organizational strategic planning, the setting of financial and mission goals, putting in place the structures and disciplines for success in the coming year, etc.

What type of goals and disciplines have you also put in place for yourself? The very first blog I posted, seven years ago, touched on what I call “The Leaders Hour.” As we launch into the new year, it seemed appropriate to bring that focus back to the top of our thinking.

While not a perfect approach, here are the five things I do to start my day off well with a focused Leader’s Hour. What would you add to this list?

The Leader's Hour

  • Scripture reading and reflection. For the past several years, I’ve been using a through-the-Bible-in-a-year program as part of the OliveTree bible app on my iPad. This disciplined approach to working through both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament has done wonders for my soul.
  • Focused Leadership Readings. The Handbook to Leadership by Kenneth Boa and others, Leadership Prayers by Richard Kreigbaum, and The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett. I find these three books to be so good for my soul and leadership practice, that when I finish each of them, I simply go back to the start and begin again. The Handbook to Leadership has a 52-week reading plan I follow. Kreigbaum’s book is good for three or four readings a year. The Valley of Vision is much slower going; this is one of those books that reads me as I read it; if I can finish it in a year, that’s ambitious.
  • Prayer. For several years now I’ve been using the Prayermate app. After years of being undisciplined in my prayer consistency, I now have an organized, consistent time of prayer each day. Most importantly: I’m actually praying for the people and things I promise to pray for.
  • Strategic Questions: I am responsible for several business entities as well as my family. Therefore, I have a few questions I reflect on each day: What are my priorities for this day? What is the greatest contribution I can make to each entity as I look out over the next three months and beyond? What is the greatest contribution I can make to my family today and this week?
  • Calendar and ToDo list review. Last (and it is important, leader, that this is done last, after the more important things listed above) but definitely not least, I spend time in front of my calendar and task list. I use the Informant app on my iPhone and iPad and it’s corresponding Mac software program, Informant. This program integrates my various calendars as well as my ToDo list, and keeps all my devices in unison while giving me a GTD approach to organizing and viewing both my calendar events and my tasks for the day, week and months ahead.

(Sometimes this Leader’s Hour happens after my time in the gym, sometimes I finish my day at the gym, but a committed time of working out also needs to be part of every leader’s consistent rhythm as well.)

The Leader’s Hour:

  • Prioritize prioritizing.
  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • Start slow to go fast.
  • Reflect for impact.
  • Start like no one else to end like no one else.

It doesn’t matter who the leader is, we all know the same thing: leaders must spend time on our own, ahead-of-time, deciding where to invest our influence.

A time of mental and spiritual renewal, of reading and reflecting and ultimately of targeting our highest priorities for the hours, days, weeks and months ahead.

Remember, leader, because of the clamor and demands around you, as much as 60% of your day will end up being unplanned. Unless you start with your own version of The Leader’s Hour, the rest will be unproductive as well. What can you do to start your days well?