Updated from November 3, 2014 post
I think what has impressed me most about the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) leaders we’ve met with this week in South Africa is their clarity and focus.
This gathering of leaders from some 40 GLS sites across southern Africa has reminded me again just how important focus is for a leader. And it has reminded me of a time when I lost focus, and took my off the leadership ball.
In case you missed it, here’s that story again; and what I learned from it.
It only takes a second.
A brief moment when, just for an instant, a receiver in an (American) football game takes his eye off the ball.
That fleeting moment of lost focus can not only result in a dropped pass, sometimes it can cost the team the game.
It’s no different in the game of leadership.
One of the most important roles of the leader is to ensure that they, and their team, are keeping their eye on the ball at all times.
That means providing clarity of focus and helping each person know which priorities require attention.
In one of my early leadership roles I found myself second-in-command in an organization with about 40 employees. One day a department head came to me with a plan to relocate her team’s offices to a different part of the building.
The basic idea made sense, so I took the proposal to the senior leader.
His feedback? “Scott, your job is to keep everyone’s eye on the ball. That department is under-performing, and rather than helping them get on track you want their energy to go towards an office relocation?”
I’ve never forgotten that counsel, nor the lesson it taught me.
Leaders must keep their eye on the ball at all times.
Here are 5 indicators that you might have taken your eye off the ball:
1. There is no alignment in your “to do” list
A clear, direct line should run between your daily activities and your most important goals.
2. Your team is vague on today’s highest priorities
Every member of your team should be able to state unequivocally how their assignments are furthering the organization’s objectives.
3. You are being sidetracked with “busy work”
Busy work are tasks you indulge in which keeps your time occupied, but which does little to advance key objectives.
4. You’ve been avoiding difficult conversations
In order to keep your team on track it requires the occasional tough conversation, where you correct mission-drift.
5. You haven’t noticed measurable movement towards key goals
If neither you, nor your team, can point to recent “wins” with respect to key goals, you’ve likely taken your eye off the ball.
Watch vigilantly for these indicators.
Because when the game really counts, your focus matters more than ever.
How do you keep your eye on the leadership ball?