As I watched the announcement of the NCAA Basketball Tournament parings the other night, I saw what I see every year – analysts and pundits talking about who got the right and wrong seeds, who got snubbed, and what problems caused by the “mistakes” made by the Selection Committee.
Later in the shows (both on CBS and ESPN) when the hosts interviewed coaches they thought might be disappointed or have a beef, they asked them how they felt about their seeding, or location. Nearly all said something like, “We’re happy to be in the Tournament and will be ready to play. Our seeding and location are outside of our control. We are going to focus on our preparation and get ready to play.”
That answer might not have been what the analysts were hoping for (it would have been more dramatic if they complained), but the answer contains a critical lesson for us as leaders – especially in the current economic climate.
Currently too many people in Corporate leadership aren’t heeding this lesson – they are spending too much time worrying about, thinking about, and talking about the economy and even the “R” word (i.e. Recession). Because of their focus on these matters, their leadership communication is likely not focused on the right things – like where the organization is going and what they are doing to survive or even thrive in the current situation.
The basketball coaches realize that to get the most from their players and to maximize performance they must focus on what is in their control. They recognize that other things like seedings, locations, officials, opponents and more are outside of their control. As leaders these coaches know that they must focus their players on the right things, and when they do they will have the best possible chance of advancing in the Tournament.
If you haven’t gotten my message yet, the current economic climate is out of your control. What is is your control is to focus on your thoughts – keeping them positive and your actions – being proactive and creative in making progress and creating positive momentum in spite of the R word.
Innovative leadership requires that you focus on what is in your control. This starts with changes your focus. How much television news are you watching? How much talk radio are you listening too? How obsessed are you with the daily fluctuations of the stock market?
Time spent on these activities for nearly everyone (especially most leaders) is time that is not only wasted, but counter productive. If that is what you are watching and reading, that is what you will be thinking about, and it will definitely be what you talk about.
Decide today to begin focusing on what is on your control. Begin to create a new energy and direction for those you lead. This will serve not only to improve your short and long term results, but will also be an instructive leadership activity to those you lead. You will be modeling the behaviors that you want them to emulate as leaders too.