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Evaluate Short-Term Demands
Leaders continually walk the tightrope between short-term demands and long-term goals. Rarely are the objectives of these two sets of goals aligned. Good leaders are required to find a balance between them, where neither side carries too much weight or sway over decision-making.
This balancing act is often judged poorly by others, who become confused as to which set of goals to prioritize. Leaders would like to scream that they both matter, but prefer instead to point out the importance to strike a balance. Just asking if you are finding a balance is a healthy thing to do.
The key to this high-wire act is to start with the long-term goals first. Stakeout clear goals and objectives for the future, at least one year or more forward in time. Now, question any immediate or short-term need that runs counter to achieving the long-term plan. You will find that short-term needs always seem more important than they are because the value they project forward is temporary, although vested interests might suggest otherwise.
When evaluated against the long-term, near-term goals can be seen clearly, suggesting whether they are in contradiction to what we say is important for our eventual successes. For those short-term demands not in contradiction, satisfying them creates satisfaction and a feeling of progress.
The best leaders try not to make trade-offs, where a contradictory short-term goal takes precedence, even for a moment of time. Quality decisions must satisfy the long-term, while not ignoring present needs and demands. This reminds us why leadership is so doggone hard.