Prioritise your development

The 'importance-effort' matrix helps you prioritise what leadership capabilities you should focus on developing first and what can wait.

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Using the ‘Prioritisation Matrix’ you can identify areas of development that will have the greatest impact for your effectiveness as a leader.

If we only pick areas of development that we find very difficult, boring or that bring us angst, we’re unlikely to stick with the development work. Taking ‘effort’ into consideration when prioritising helps pick areas of development you’ll actually stick with. Addressing these areas first can give us some quick wins and build confidence in our ability to develop ourselves as leaders.



Set a timer for 15 minutes. It’s a quick exercise so try to not overthink it.


Take a sheet of paper and draw the 'importance-effort' matrix.

Experienced Leaders Team Challenge Journey 4

Spend a few minutes plotting out your key areas of development that you've identified so far. Feel free to write these on post it notes and physically plot them onto the matrix to get a really clear visual image. How difficult are they? How important are they?


How much effort something is going to cost you depends on how hard it is as well as how motivated you are to do it. Things you'll find easy might be:

  • Something you feel internally motivated to do. Maybe you've been looking for an opportunity to do it, or perhaps addressing it will help solve more than one problem
  • Something that just feels fun
  • If it feels like you can't wait to get started
  • Something that solves more than one problem

Take a step back and look at your Matrix. What feels of low importance and hard? These things you can ignore.

Instead, look at the top right corner of the matrix at the things who are both important and feel easy. This is where you should start. Wrap up the exercise by identifying 1-2 areas of development that can be quick wins but still have a high impact!


The final step is to plan for taking action. What is the smallest thing you can do this week to get things started?

Facilitator notes

A prioritization matrix is a useful exercise, not just to help prioritise areas of leadership development. Why not use it with your team when planning? You can always swap out the variables to fit the purpose. For example, a classic prioritisation matrix has importance on one axis and urgency on the other.

This alternative method can be a good way to prioritise workload and influence perception of priorities to those above you. The long term aim as a senior leader is to focus most time on those elements that are important but not urgent – because these are the things which can have the biggest, long term impact for those you seek to serve.


Prioritisation exercises are commonly used in all kinds of development work ranging from Product Development (e.g. this example) to organisational development (e.g. this example).

The Clore Social team has developed it to be useful for self development. As a part of the The Leadership Personality Profile course The Prioritisation Matrix exercise is used by leaders to identify areas of development that will have the greatest impact for your effectiveness as a leader.


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This practice can help you overcome self-paralysis and take action by separating what you can control from what you cannot.

SWOB Analysis
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SWOB Analysis

Create your own development picture by mapping your Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Barriers.

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