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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

The Quality of Leadership Focus

What is focus?

In terms of a leadership skill, focus is reflected the capacity to identify and devote the majority of your time and energy to the “critical few” objectives and issues, while still managing to deal with the “important many” objectives and issues.

The problem with focus is that your people and your customers may always trying to give you a new one! That’s why finding your focus is not the difficult issue, keep your focus is the difficult part.

Employees, customers and others have their own agendas for us, making focus a large challenge for us in leadership at every level. While most of the time, their ideas are very worthy of consideration, they can tend to knock us off our primary mission. Each morning, we set out with a plan for that day, but if we’re not diligent, our plan can get shifted by the plans of others. Our calendar gets crazy and out of control. We should be the one controlling it, but it’s controlling us.

The same happens with our projects, we give 10% to this project and 15% to that project and so on.

Our Clear Vision general rule of thumb for leaders and managers is this:

Investing 60% of your time on a project does not guarantee it’s success, but investing less than 60% of your time on a project (or managing someone who does) guarantees it’s mediocrity. Each project which receives less than 60% of your time will only be mediocre compared to what it could be if you would focus on it.

How can we ever accomplish anything this way?

As companies and organization grow, we will always have more to distract us, which make maintaining focus more difficult. As the number of people grow around us, so does the complexity. Our focus can’t simply reside on the people, as the number of people is growing, so is the need for systems and procedures. Our focus becomes diluted, and we start getting into simple fire-fighting mode. Then people inside and outside our organization want to know how we plan to grow the business, now we’ve got to have bigger, better, newer and more productive plans. What may have started out as a singular focus, has now become a 24-hour buffet of attention stealers.

How focused are you in your position?

Signs of distraction

1. Marginalization

We get marginalized when our input and influence is reduced or limited to only a few areas. Decisions are made without our input or we attend meetings and get a chance to voice an opinion, but it doesn’t effect the outcome.

2. Diversion

Non-essential things are eating up our focus, time and thoughts or when resources are being used for things that aren’t productive, we’ve lost focus.

3. Attacks

Resistance and overt attacks can remove our focus from the main issues.

4. Seduction

Pleasing our allies and friends in the organization has become more important to us than staying on a difficult course. If we know the decision is hard and may upset one of the people we’ve developed a close relationship with and we allow that to keep us from doing what is right for the organization, we’ve become seduced. This can also come from an intense need to be liked.

Keeping focus is difficult even when you know it is, but remember, whatever gets your focus gets you and your energy. Whatever you give your focus and energy to will get larger, whatever you divert your focus and energy away from will get smaller.

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