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“What is urgent is rarely important. And what is important is seldom urgent.”
Former US President Eisenhower 


Chefsache: the German word that indicates which topics are on the agenda of the CEO and the leadership team.

A day has 24 hours. A week has seven days. There is always much more work to be done than there is time available. How do you best address this dilemma? What do you spend your time on? Where do you allocate your resources?


Continuous prioritization is one of the keys. But that’s not enough! We see many top managers who seem to be operating in crisis mode all the time. Everything is urgent and they live in a whirlwind. Of course, external conditions can play a role, but it is also important to take a good, deep look in the mirror. Perhaps everyone in your environment operates this way and it’s hard to break the habit, but it’s not effective.


The exercise that the CEO and the leadership team must go through first is setting the agenda and the priorities. What are we focusing on in our next fiscal year? What do we do in the quarter that is ahead of us? Where are we focusing on with our company?


Some ideas that you can start with immediately:


  • Invest the time required to decide upon the agenda for the next 12-24 months. Do it bottom up and involve your team(s) and other key players.

  • Translate the agenda further into the company’s priorities and actions.

  • Build personal routines in which you spend the right amount of time on the right issues. Start monitoring your behaviors!

  • Behave like a role model and remain calm whenever possible. Operate in crisis mode only if the situation really requires it - not by default.

  • Try a simple technique that is sometimes used to frame your priorities: the Eisenhower matrix, named after former US President Eisenhower. In which you classify tasks according to whether they are urgent or important. Look hereunder for the model. A quick exercise is then: take a look at your agenda from last week, and plot, in hindsight, your activities, meetings, client meetings, projects, etcetera, in this matrix. What do you see?


Knowing what a chefsache is, and what is not, is an essential building block for the success of your company.


Hopefully this inspires.


Paul Donkers


Would you like to continue the conversation with me or one of my colleagues about your company or about your personal approach? We'd love to hear from you. Please let us know via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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