The “to do list” is one of the most commonly used instruments. A lot has been written about how important it is to capture your tasks and ensure that you actually get things done. Psychologists studied the satisfaction, sense of accomplishment and increased motivation we get when we check items off the list. As traditional day timers accelerate towards extinction, the traditional to do list is being reincarnated in a flood of mobile apps (I have Wunderlist on my devices).

While it can be useful, the “to do list” has an evil side. It can trap us into becoming too task oriented at the expense of strategic thinking and collaboration. Too much focus on the to do list can become like seeing the leaves and becoming unaware of the tree, let alone the forest. In a world of increasing complexity, interdependencies, and acceleration, it is even more critical to focus on relationships as an essential ingredient for getting results.

As a top leader, you are uniquely responsible for having high-level visibility of and influence with all stakeholders. To accomplish this effectively, toss out your “to do list” and replace it with a “to call list.”   Your to call list should cover a whole range of constituencies including customers, employees, advisors, partners, suppliers, industry influencers, and investors. As a CEO, your level of effectiveness, impact, and influence is directly proportional to the number of stakeholders you influence positively. In our crazy busy world, we tend to spend less and less time in high quality human-to-human interactions.

A “to call list” may look like this:

Creating a new habit of using the “to call list” will results in several benefits, including:

  • Building better relationships with key stakeholders
  • On-going awareness of the key issues from a variety of important perspectives
  • Opportunity to influence various stakeholders directly
  • Venue for bouncing ideas and getting real time feedback
  • Understanding how clear is the strategy in the mind of employees in various roles
  • Assessing how well the Core Values are alive within the organization

Using the “to call list” to see the forest, the trees, and the leaves will help you steer your organization firmly and decisively in the right direction.