There’s much to remember to be a successful leader. Sometimes leaders get so busy and engrossed with day-to-day operations that they forget some critical activities. Here are 6 items that need to be on your leadership agenda:

1. Grow a replacement. Your employer can’t promote you until they have someone to replace you. You can’t move up in the organization if you’re the only one who can do that job where you’re at right now. And if you’re the top boss, you can’t let succession planning languish or the fate of your entire organization hangs in the balance.

2. Anticipate problems. Most problems simmer on the back burner before they start to boil over. Like a professional pilot, you’ve got to be scanning all your instruments and the horizon to make sure you don’t get slammed by a potential problem (or at least be completely ready for the problems you can’t avoid).

3. Exploit opportunities. Most leaders know what (and who) is wrong, but they become oblivious to opportunities. Who are the star performers who need recognition and development? What are the great opportunities just waiting to be seized? It isn’t simply positive/negative thinking: it is about being as focused on the good and opportunistic as you are on the bad and problematic.

4. Change before it is necessary. We all know about the power of disruption and its potential to ruin us. Why do we wait until the last moment to change? Why not preempt? Staying successful isn’t based on your ability to change: it is based on your ability to change faster than your competitors, the needs of your customers and the demands of the marketplace. If you have to change just to keep up, you’ve lost whatever competitive advantage you could have enjoyed by changing sooner.

5. Stay relevant. What does it even mean to be relevant? Relevancy is about being closely connected: your colleagues, your customer and vendors, and your marketplace. You are deemed relevant when others believe you affect them and their success, and that therefore you and your work matter. In business, customers make the evaluation as to a firm’s relevance. What are you doing to stay up-to-date and salient about what matters most to those you lead and serve?

6. Take care of themselves. “Taking care of yourself” seems selfish, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why so many leaders neglect to do so. Consider: if you’re going to model the energy you expect from others, give support and lead the way, you need to be at the top of your game, mentally, emotionally and physically. Burned-out leaders burn out followers. The right diet, exercise and rest aren’t luxuries but very real necessities for successful leadership.

With so much to do, you need to keep a clear and up-to-date agenda of the truly important things you consistently need to do. To work without an agenda—and to forget to do the 6 things above—puts you at risk as a leader.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team-building, customer service and change. Mark is the author of 8 books, including the best seller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at