What Successful Leaders Focus On

What Successful Leaders Focus On

Posted by in Self-Leadership, The Leadership Coach™

For many years I’ve been fascinated by the subtle differences in the mindsets of highly successful leaders when compared with the mediocre majority. As Mark Twain once said “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.  I’ve had the opportunity to observe many outstanding leaders in action and it has become clear to me that a core strategy of their sustained success is a decision to choose what they will focus on. So what do successful leaders focus on?

The Core (instead of the fringe)
An ever-present threat to the success of every leader is the array of issues occurring on ‘the fringe’. Like team members that are leaving. Or distractions and fire fighting. Or side projects that don’t align. I’m not suggesting leaders should ignore the fringe, because issues do need to be addressed and sometimes great opportunities first appear on the fringe. But it’s a question of focus.

The leader who focuses on the fringe lives a reactionary existence and without the strength that focusing on the core brings, they can rarely capitalise on opportunities that arise anyway. Something I’ve noticed about effective leadership is that it operates with great clarity around what its core business is. They know what really matters and what the centre of their target is.

Momentum (instead of maintenance)
What gives your organisation momentum? Knowing the answer to that question is one of the great weapons of effective leadership. Momentum is one of the most difficult aspects of a business to build and a commodity that should be treasured. When we focus on building momentum we often make different decisions to the person who is more concerned with maintenance.

A momentum focus demands that we invest in things like marketing, training, product development and generally taking some risks. A maintenance focus is more concerned with systems, quality control, management and generally maintaining the status quo. Of course, you can’t ignore maintenance either if you want to stay in business for long. But you can have a well ‘maintained’ business that you run into bankruptcy by failing to keep the focus on momentum.

What They Can Influence (instead of what they can’t influence)
Stephen Covey was right when he taught that focusing on your “circle of influence” is instrumental to being an effective leader (ref: Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People). There is a direct relationship between the extent to which I focus on the things I can influence in the world around me, and the extent to which I create real and lasting change.

To be ineffective is to expend my best efforts and energy on issues over which I have no personal control. Like every business I’m affected by interest rates, competitors, global events and a whole host of factors that I cannot influence. I don’t ignore them, but I can’t focus on them and remain effective. One of life’s best-kept secrets is that when I focus on what I can influence, over time I increase what I can influence. On the other hand if I expend myself on things that I can’t influence, gradually my influence shrinks through disuse.

So What Are You Focusing On?

  • Are you crystal clear on what is core for you and your team?
  • Do you know what gives you momentum and does that get the lion’s share of your attention?
  • And how much of your precious focus is drained away by things you cannot influence?

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback
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