I haven’t met a leader yet whose day is not full of information, fast-paced action and distractions. At any given moment, you are bombarded with input from multiple directions. To appear “in control” and competent, you feel you have no other choice than to react to the situation demanding you immediate attention. Now! Yet, when you reflect on your day, you don’t seem to have gotten anything done. You are exhausted. How can this be?
The problem is failing to focus on what’s important.
Here are four tips for keeping your leadership eyes focused in the right direction:
1. Focus on making a difference with your employees.
Employees admire leaders who have a positive impact on others. It shows that you understand that you are not the center of the universe and that you are here to serve others. So, maximize the impact of you have on others by shedding your Superman cape. Instead of you taking responsibility to react and solve the problem or provide an answer, coach those around you to think through possible answers or responses to the issue. It not only shows your employees that you care enough to take the time to include them in the solution, but it builds capacity in those around you and relieves you of shouldering all responsibility.
2. Focus on being credible.
According to Kouzes and Posner, the one characteristic employees look for in their leaders is credibility. You don’t have to be perfect, but to build and keep credibility, you must demonstrate competence, meaning you can cogently converse about what’s going on in your organization and industry and deliver on what you say. You must be forward-looking to help your organization adapt to changing market conditions. You must be transparent and honest, so others will believe what you say over time. Finally, you must be inspiring, meaning that you can communicate to others how they are part of something bigger than themselves and can achieve great things.
3. Focus on a common vision.
Crafting a vision for your organization takes work. The REAL work starts when you start making that vision a reality. Communicating the vision in ways others can relate to and support takes constant effort and stewardship. Keeping the vision in focus for others is a daily task that leaders must do. You must “walk the talk” and live the vision by being an example and use that vision to constantly frame the work done in your organization — everything from how a receptionist greets visitors to the principles used to make big decisions about products and services.
4. Focus on learning.
Be open to looking at things in new ways. Be curious as you approach new technologies or even problems. Ask questions. Always seek to improve yourself by getting feedback on how you’re doing. And view the workplace as one, big scrimmage field where people can take chances, practice and fail, and learn from their mistakes.
So, at the end of the day, ask yourself:
• Did I make a positive difference with at least one employee today?
• Was I credible?
• Did I further our mission and vision?
• Did I learn something new today?