Focusing on yourself, focusing on others, and focusing on the wider world is a very important step in leadership. The primary task of leadership is to direct attention. In order to do so, leaders need to learn to focus their own attention. Being focused, commonly means thinking about one thing while filtering out distractions. Leaders need to build awareness, as it is very important thus focus is necessary because focusing inward gives us insight, focus on others provides direction, and focusing outward provides us vision.
Focusing on Yourself
Self-awareness leads to increased Emotional intelligence—thus getting in touch with your inner voice can help leaders make better use of resources, make better decisions and connect with their authentic selves. Paying careful attention to internal physiological signals helps in the best way to build self awareness. The insula that is tucked behind the frontal earlobes maintains these signals. Attention to any part of the body amps up the insula’s sensitivity to that part. It ultimately shows how aware people are about themselves.
Gut feelings are also similar messages termed as somatic markers. These messages are basically sensations that something “feels” right or wrong. Those that along with the external signal interspersed with their gut feeling make decisions are usually more effective and successful. This is the right balance of focus.
Another part of self awareness is being authentic. Being authentic is being the same person to others and yourself. One important thing is open awareness, which involves noticing what’s going on around us without getting caught up by or affected by things around us. Thus we don’t judge but rather perceive.
“Cognitive control” is the logical term for putting one’s consideration where one needs it and keeping it there despite impulse to meander. This in other words is “willpower.” It helps one to pursue a goal despite distractions and setbacks. Good cognitive control is observed in people who remain calm in a crisis and recover from a debacle or defeat.
A lot of research demonstrates the importance of willpower to leadership success. How we focus is directly linked to willpower that is the ability to focus away from objects of desire and to focus on the important goals.
Focusing on Others
Executives that focus on others are easier to notice and are more successful.
The empathy triad:
There are three distinct kinds of empathies, each important for leadership effectiveness:
cognitive empathy—the ability to understand another person’s perspective;
emotional empathy—the ability to feel what someone else feels;
empathic concern—the ability to sense what another person needs from you.
Cognitive empathy helps leaders to explain themselves in meaningful ways—a skill necessary to getting the best performance from their direct reports. Cognitive empathy requires leaders to think about feelings rather than feeling them directly.Having an inquisitive nature leads to cognitive empathy.
Emotional empathy is important for managing clients and group dynamics. One needs to be in tune of others emotions to understand their brain. One needs to understand your own feelings to understand the feelings of others. Thus it involves combining two kinds of attention: a focus on your feelings as a mirror to someone else’s feelings and an open awareness about external signs of emotion.
Empathic concern, closely knit to emotional empathy, enables us to sense what people need from us. It is about understanding more than just feelings of people.
People lacking social sensitivity are easily visible. They are the bullies, but when you point out they shift the blame is unaware of his problems.
Social sensitivity is related to cognitive empathy. Cognitively empathic executives do better overseas because they easily pick up new norms and cultures learn the unique mental models of a new culture. Attention to social context provides us with skills to act in social situations.
Focusing on the Wider World
A strong outward focus not only makes you good listeners but good questioners as well. Their vision allows them to sense consequences of their small decisions in length. They are open to the surprising ways in which seemingly unrelated data can inform their central interests.
Focusing on strategy.
Strategy basically entails main elements: exploitation of the current situation and exploration of newer opportunities. Both these activities involve different areas of the brain. While exploitation involves looking at job in the hand, exploration involves envisioning a future. Exploration requires us to shift our focus from our current work to a completely different cognitive use of our brain.
To make this effort, we need time for exploration and a balanced mind. Thus, it requires us to be away from stress and fatigue.
The wellsprings of innovation.
In this day and age everyone has access to information. What sets one apart is the ability to utilise untapped potential. Selective attention is necessary to address a creative challenge. This allows us to be aware of the current situation and utilize our minds to tap into unknown potential. This is what leads to innovation. To be aware and to envision is the route to innovation.
The focused leader shows about how to use attention in the right way to lead and to achieve things. It uses the different areas that require unhindered focus and the right amount of it. Focus leads us to be aware of our surroundings in order to act accordingly to be able to control ourselves. The self awareness and the self control entail a large part of being focused and help us half our way through.