By Pam Fox Rollin

Very few people thoughtfully manage the scope of their job. I suggest you do.

Reframe the criteria for success

There's no shortage of ways to view your job. At a minimum, there's what you think you're supposed to be doing, what your boss thinks, what your team thinks, and your by-now-buried job description. Chances are, these four views of your job are all different. Even worse, none of them may be doable.

You want to be evaluated on a short, relevant set of metrics. Refine your criteria to the critical three to five priorities, and then align expectations for what you will deliver.

While you'll find more flexibility in small and mid-sized companies, mid-level leaders in larger companies can sometimes alter formal company metrics. In any case, you can definitely use metrics to drive the off-P&L understanding of your function.

Organize your priorities

Let's start by considering what leaders do:

• Set direction (strategizing, planning)

• Engage and mobilize people (developing, communicating)

• Enable execution (hiring, budgeting, coordinating)

• Other stuff only you do

I offer the first three buckets with thanks to Sharon Richmond, now Director of Cisco's Change Leadership Center of Excellence, and my co-author on leadership research. Sharon developed this simple yet powerful model of what leaders do. The fourth bucket reflects the reality that many leaders have an "individual contributor" component to their job.

For each of these buckets, note the priority responsibilities of this job. Said an executive I interviewed: "You can only really care about three things at a time, maybe five." Note what you think you should be doing (how many hours per month you'd allocate to each, to maximize business results). Finally, leave yourself some time to participate, lead, or initiate cross-functional efforts that drive value to a broader P&L.

Then note other initiatives that take significant time, but either don't fall into these buckets or aren't priorities for you. "When you find an individual opportunity, hand it down with your mentoring," says Pat Arensdorf, CEO of Critical Diagnostics. "You can't do many of those yourself. Turn most over to your team."

Laying out your priorities in an organized way prepares you to have a conversation with your boss, coach, and others who can help you redesign your job and re-set expectations to line up with value for the business.