Many leaders are feeling a bit frustrated these days. So much has happened so quickly that we have found ourselves in a different world than we were in just a few short months ago. All of these moving targets and changing forecasts make it hard to find our bearings. We are juggling family and work in ways we never have before. We are overwhelmed, distracted, and it may feel as if we are doing nothing but treading water, waiting for this to be over.
The problem is, we need to do more than just tread water. We need to lead. But how can we lead through all this noise and fog when we are being pulled in so many directions? How can we move forward when it’s so hard to know where to center our attention? There are three areas of focus that can elevate your leadership in all this uncertainty.
Focus on the Moment
We have a lot going on right now, don’t we? So many things demand our attention. Tomorrow, next week, and next month all seem to have more questions than answers. There are scenarios to plan for, multiple paths to account for, questions to answer and unknowns to figure out. It is understandable that our minds are all over the place and that we easily lose focus. But focus is exactly what our organizations need from us right now. So slow down for a minute. What are you doing at this moment? As important as all of those other issues are, none of them are more important than this moment.
THIS is the moment that you can control. This is your moment of greatest impact. So focus on it. Give your full attention to it. Whatever you are doing, center in on that. Whether it is having a video call with an employee, writing an email to your prospect, helping a customer, engaging with a coworker, focus on this moment. Bring your best self to that interaction or task. All those other issues that you are worried about? They will still be there when you finish the call, send the email or resolve the issue. So let them wait, and focus on the moment.
Focus on Bringing Value
When we are in times of crisis, our brains naturally kick into survival mode. In survival mode focus turns inward. My mind gets obsessed with self-preservation. I can’t see past getting what I need so I can survive. Obviously that instinct plays an important role in our lives, but it is not a healthy place from which to lead. If I let it consume me, I end up in a place where the needs of others become an afterthought.
In survival mode, I am consumed with getting paid and completely lose sight of bringing value to my customers. When I circle the wagons, the health and well-being of my team take a backseat to how they can help me survive. As a leader, I must fight through that and instead focus on how I am showing up and bringing value to my customers, my team and my organization. Instead of being consumed with what I can get out of them or how little I can get away with giving them, I need to intentionally focus on being a source of value to them.
Being intentional means finding out what they need and figuring out ways I can bring value to them to help them succeed in this crisis. It’s easy to fall into survival mode right now but becoming more self-serving will not lead us to success and will cause tremendous long-term damage. If we choose to focus on bringing value, our teams and our customers they will be more successful, which will in turn help us be more successful.
Focus on What’s Important
One of the most powerful things we can do in a crisis is be intentional about what is really important. Left unchecked, I can get distracted by the minutia when things get difficult. The loud, urgent tasks that jump up and down, demanding my attention are all I can see. Crisis blinds me to the truly important issues that ought to have my focus. And in this crisis, I cannot afford to lose track of the truly important tasks my team needs me to focus on.
So, what is the most important thing for you to accomplish this week. Not the most urgent. Not the thing that is screaming the loudest. What are the two or three top priorities that must receive your attention this week if you are to move your company forward? What are the things that will ensure that you are stronger, better positioned when this is over? Then, what about today? What are the two or three things that are more important today? Make sure you focus on those items and give them the attention they deserve.
Focus on the moment. Focus on bringing value. Focus on what’s important.
These three areas of focus will help provide the kind of leadership your team and your organization desperately need.