There are many responsibilities that fall to the lot of a leader.  They are not all equal in value or impact. Here are five of them that Dan Rockwell calls “Ultimate Responsibilities.”

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Frantic leaders manage too much and lead too little. Doing it all only works on TV commercials and in the movies.

Engage in fewer activities – behaviors that matter most.

You must know what matters, before you can do it.


1.  Define and focus on what matters now.

The delivery of value requires the elimination of irrelevant behaviors and low-value activities. Distraction is more than a nuisance. It’s a subtle enemy that crushes organizations. Never dance with distraction – defeat it with merciless focus.

2.  Develop and maximize talent through coaching.

  •  The real product of leadership is achievement through fulfilled people.
  • Coaching enables ownership, fulfillment, energy, and learning for teammates with aspirations to grow.
  • Coaching-leaders get out of the way, while staying connected.

 3.  Get out of the way while staying connected.

  • Connect with the people who are getting the best results.
  • Connect with under-utilized people who aspire to add more value.
  • Avoid getting sucked into urgent trivialities. Quickly delegate easily solved issues.
  • Help others improve their own work. Don’t tweak.
  • Honor behaviors that align with organizational values.
  • Walk around.
  • Say thank you everywhere you go.

 4.  Smooth the path to achievement.

  • Successful leaders minimize the resources and energy it takes to run organizations while maximizing positive outcomes.
  • Eliminate duplication of effort.
  • Minimize paper-work.
  • Create systems and structures that strengthen team camaraderie.
  • Make hard work as effective and efficient as possible. First, do what matters most. Second, improve the way you do it.

 5.  Lift people out of the weeds.

  •  Busy people always end up lost in the weeds.
  • Connect team members with other insiders and outsiders.
  • Explain the big picture.
  • Narrow scope.
  • Focus on solutions.
  • Ask, “What matters now?”

Bonus:  Deal with tough issues others avoid. Others are waiting for you to call-out the elephant in the room.