Leadership Quality #8: Focus – The Sharper it is, the Sharper you are

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape!

What does it take to have the focus required to be a truly effective leader? The keys are priorities and concentration. A leader who knows their priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do but never gets it done. If the leaders has concentration but no priorities, they have excellence without potential to achieve great things.

Avoid being the leader who majors in minor things, because that just doesn’t make sense. Understand your strengths and use them wisely.  So how should you focus your time and energy?

  1. Focus 70% on strengths – Effective leaders who reach their potential spend more time focussing on what they do well than on what they do wrong. Strength is always specific..to be successful, focus on your strengths and develop them. That’s where you should pour your time, energy and resources.
  2. Focus 25% on new things – Growth equals change. If you want to get better you have to keep changing and improving. That means stepping out into new areas. If you dedicate time to new things related to your areas of strength, then you’ll grow as a leader. Don’t forget: in leadership if you’re through growing, you’re through!
  3. Focus 5% on areas of weakness – Nobody can entirely avoid working in areas of weakness. The key is to minimise it as much as possible by delegating to people for whom it is their strength.


How would you rate yourself in the area of focus? Have you been majoring in minor things? Have you spent so much time shoring up your weaknesses that you’ve failed to build up your strengths? Do the people with the least potential monopolise your time? If so, you’ve probably lost focus.

To get back on track with your focus, do these things:

  • Work on yourself – you are your greatest asset, or detriment.
  • Work at your priorities – you will have to fight for them.
  • Work in your strengths – you can reach your potential.
  • Work with your contemporaries – you can’t be effective alone.

To improve your focus, do the following:

  • Shift to strengths – make a list of three or four things you do well in your job. What percentage of your time do you spend doing them? What percentage of your resources is dedicated to these areas of strength? Devise a plan to make changes, allowing you to dedicate 70% of your time to your strengths. If you can’t, it may be time to reassess things and tell the truth to yourself about your current role.
  • Staff your weaknesses – identify three or four activities necessary for you to do your job that you don’t do well. Determine how you can delegate the jobs to others. Will it require hiring staff? Can you partner with a co-worker to share responsibilities? Develop a plan, then work it. In our current world there are some amazing contractors, virtual assistants and interns out there that can really support you in key areas.
  • Create an edge – now that you’ve looked at priorities, think about concentration. What would it take for you to go to the next level in your main area of strength? What new tools do you need? Rethink how you do things, and be willing to make sacrifices. Time and money spent to take you to the next level are the best investment you can make.
“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”
Margaret Mead, anthropologist

So what will you say? And what will you do?

Where will you focus? Said another way, what are your priorities? And where are you concentrating?

I invite you to make it a priority to stop and consider the steps outlined here. We all only have 24hours in the day, it’s how we use them that sets us apart.

Part 8 of our Leadership Series: Leadership is an Inside Job, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader


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