Triple Focus and Why Leaders Need Them
What do you understand when someone tells you to, “stay focussed”? You’d think it means shutting out distractions, concentrating on the task in hand, or keeping goals in the line-of-sight. That’s exactly how most of us would understand it.
But actually, focus is not that simple. It runs deeper. What is it about focus that’s so elusive?
Let’s understand ‘focus’ from a basketball player’s perspective. What do you think is his primal task? Without even blinking an eye, you’d say, “to score as many points as possible”. True, but ask the player and he will tell you that it’s not that simple – it requires focus. Ask him to explain and he will tell you that to score points, he needs to stay calm and concentrate on his strategy and skills. He has to keep passing the ball to his team players, completely trusting them that they will gradually lead him to the basket and help him take a shot. Again, this has to happen in complete understanding of the strategy being played by the defending team if he wants to stay one step ahead of them.
Now apply the analogy to a leader and ‘focus’ does not seem that daunting anymore.
Successful leaders are usually driven by one goal – improving the financial health of the organization. To achieve this, most leaders concentrate only on themselves. They focus on self-discipline, self-management, building on strengths, and improving weaknesses. Leaders strive to keep in touch with their value systems, beliefs and instincts, all of which promote sound decision-making. In the process of finding this inner focus, it is natural to lose sight of one’s team members and the changing business dynamics.
But true leaders know that such a singular focus will not take them too far in their journey in achieving organizational goals. Like the basketball player, leaders will need the cooperation and active support of their team. This is possible only if leaders listen to their team, involve them in decision-making, show trust without second-guessing, address their needs and concerns, and help them grow. Lack of empathy is usually the reason that prevents leaders from focusing on others.
Again, a leader cannot afford to ignore his surroundings. Successful leaders keep track of market trends, innovations, and changing demand and make the necessary adjustments. This is important to gain a head-start on an opportunity or avert a crisis situation.
Conscious efforts and self-awareness are needed to get attuned to the three focus areas – self (inner focus), team members (other focus) and surroundings (outer focus). When a leader finds the right balance in these focus areas, he has found his ability to lead effectively.