It is one of those words everyone says is a good thing – something most people would like to be better at.
Yet by itself, something is missing.
What are you focused on?
Daniel Goleman, best-selling author and a codirector of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence In Organizations at Rutgers University has thought about this question in depth. In a December 2013 article in the Harvard Business Review he outlines the three things all leaders need to focus on:
- an inward focus
- a focus on others
- an outward focus
He writes “Focusing inward and focusing on others helps leaders cultivate emotional intelligence. Focusing outward can improve their ability to devise strategy, innovate, and manage organizations.”
I think he is correct and he lays out a critical challenge for all of us.
Chances are you are far more proficient at one of these three focal points than the other two – and that the proficiency or habit of focus likely says much about the kind of leader you are.
Yet to become the best leader we can be – and to best serve both our team members and our organization, we must become what I call the triple focused leader.
Now the question is . . .
. . . how?
I can’t unpack all of that here – nor have I figured it out completely for myself, but I can give you a tangible way to get started.
1. Determine where your focus is most often – internal, others or outward. You likely already have a clear picture of this. If not try:
- Asking co-workers for their feedback.
- Track your day – what activities are you spending the most time on?
- Consider your goals – what do your goals tell you about this – not only what the goals are, but the ones you are making the most progress on.
2. Determine your blind spot – or where you focus least.
3. Identify how building focus in that area will help you, your team and your organization.
4. Devise a plan to put more focus on that blind spot.
- Identify three specific actions you will take to focus more in that area.
- Get a mentor coach or co-worker to help you work on that focus area – and give you feedback.
Goleman likens this triple focus idea to looking through binoculars, where you can focus on different things in your field of view based on your interest and where you focus the lens.
Think about looking through those binoculars and realize that is what we are all doing everyday. Our goal should be to adjust the focus to see everything in front of us, not just what we naturally want to look at.
But who ever said leadership was going to be easy?