The Battle Secrets of Personal and Organizational Focus
Allocating Time and Energy
In a world that can’t seem to get more connected or more informed, it’s no wonder the battle involved in personal and organizational focus has become greater and greater. Ironically, the greater the challenge in focusing, the greater the need.
As leaders, anyone we work with directly can relate with the “what is the best strategic use of my time and energy today” question. Perhaps as leaders, we struggle ourselves more than anyone with the answer to that question day-in and day-out. But it’s not just a question we pose on a personal level but for our organizational focus as well.
For any professional leader, the two are intertwined. With the rapid pace of innovation and technology growth that we are experiencing it is more important than ever to focus on what is most important. But, what approaches are available to us as leaders to help focus and clarify our priorities?
Maddening Cycle or Strategic Advantage?
It is estimated that in the United States we risk 70% of our productive time because we are distracted and not focused. Like a siege, this creates a maddening and energy-zapping cycle. As the stress builds, it can feel like we are at war (more on that later) with ourselves or our teams to gain clarity and drive. However, we have to remember that our ability to focus on and pursue goals to get results can be a great strategic advantage.
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“Levels of War” to Increase Focus
As mentioned before, we can apply the same principles to our individual focus that we also apply to our organizational focus. As leaders we can take much of what we learn is effective in helping our own daily focus and transfer that to the company or organization we lead.
Battling for focus as an individual and an organization can feel like a long, drawn-out war. Writings on the United States military label their approach to defending the country and maintain security as “Levels of War”. With all respect due our veterans, this approach focuses our thought, planning, and action on what works and wins “on the battlefield”.
Borrowing from this framework, here are some ideas for increasing focus.
We can approach our personal and organization business with a strategic mindset. Consider limiting the number of initiatives to three or four big strategies and schedule time to make progress on annual goals individually and collectively. By frontloading this mindset, we can proactively reduce the tendency to overload ourselves or our teams.
As we drill down a level, we can seek consistent agreement to operational priorities as a team and set short-term goals to stay proactive. And for leaders, depending on the talent we have…we should delegate, delegate, delegate!
The tactical level is where the specter of forgetting something can add undue stress for our teams. Employees and workgroups want to see the impact they make. Ensure oversight of the focus of the team on tasks daily with clear expectations, engagement, and empowerment. It’s important for us as leaders or the organization to have refined tools for managing tasks. This reduces focus-killing doubt of task completion and frees sharp minds to devote adequate attention to operations and strategy.
Fighting a battle with personal focus? We’re here…
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