Five Priorities Every Leader Must Keep

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. – Roy E. Disney

A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck. “Where’s Harry?” he was asked. “Harry had a spell of some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail,” the man replied. “You left Harry lying there, and carried back the deer?” “Well,” said the hunter, “I figured no one was going to steal Harry.”

It would appear from the story that the eager hunter had misplaced his priorities. As a leader it’s easy to get sidetracked and fall into the trap of believing that you are invincible. It can be a slippery slope to travel and if you are not careful it can hurt you. Burnout at the office due to high demands and even higher self-imposed expectations can cause you to cut corners and make unhealthy personal choices. Here are five priorities that ought to be non –negotiable for every leader.


Leaders understand the value of work and are certainly familiar with sacrifice. But when you sacrifice your family for your business then you are too close to the slippery slope and it’s time to reorder your priorities. Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business.” That’s sound advice and should be your number one priority. No level of success is worth losing your family over. Besides, no one like family can give you the unvarnished truth you need to hear and keep your ego in check like family.


While your faith is primarily a personal matter it’s impact is far-reaching. Your faith gives you moral clarity that impacts the way you live and the decisions you make. The peace you receive from your faith is the foundation of your temperament in all walks of life- including your leadership style. Your faith is not your adversary as it relates to your leadership it’s your partner so embrace it and keep it close. The principles of your faith make for good leadership skills.

Time Management

Your ability to manage your team as a leader will make you or break you. If you don’t take control of your time then you can be assured someone else will. Your priorities are just that –yours. In his book, All You Have Is Now, my friend John Patrick Hickey says, “It has never been about how much time we do or do not have. It is how we use our time that counts. Even more important is that we do use our time.” Use your time wisely because you will never get it back. It’s a top priority every leader must keep.


By nature, most leaders I know are generous and giving people. Most have a hard time saying no. But you must be careful not to get to the place where you are not growing and learning and nurturing your own sense of wonderment, curiosity, education, and personal development. If you do not make personal development a priority then chances are those around you will not do it for you. What new books are you reading in in 2014? What are you doing to keep your leadership skills sharp? Make self-improvement a priority and you will be the better for it and so will those around you.

Proper diet and exercise

Many leaders I know burn the candle at both ends. I understand it. But you are not invincible. And if you want to be a leader who lasts you must permit yourself to have some down time. Proper diet and exercise is essential to your ability to do the many tasks you are responsible for. I would include in this category another essential – sleep. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( did a study of the sleep habits of U.S. workers and discovered that thirty percent (about 40.6 million workers) get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. Leaders who make proper diet, exercise, and sleep a priority are going to be healthier and better equipped for the challenges of the day. If you don’t take care of your body how will you take of all of your leadership demands?

What do you say?


© 2014 Doug Dickerson

If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership insights you will especially enjoy his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted! Order them at