“Leaders are people who focus attention on a vision.” –Warren Bennis
As a leader, your job, by definition, is to lead people in the direction of your vision. As the quote above implores, you must focus attention on the vision, your attention and that of the organization you lead. We all know that leading your organization in the direction of your vision can sometimes feel like herding cats, a near impossible task. But keeping our own attention focused on that vision can also present some challenges.
Even the best leaders can veer away from big picture issues and get sucked into the day-to-day issues that can plague a company. Sometimes these detours really need our attention and input, but of course, often they don’t. Why do we go off course to do things that perhaps are no longer our domain?
Maybe it’s comfort, we actually like doing them. Sometimes it is a lack of trust in the person or team that is responsible. Maybe it is the positive feelings we get from being the hero or expert solving a problem we might have let our people solve on their own. Whatever the case, an important component of developing as a leader is to use discernment to identify which situations need you and which don’t.
Think about it, when you give something your time and attention as a leader, it is a massive commitment of your organization’s resources. Yes, you are that important. So you really have to think hard about where you commit your time.
If there is an area of your business that doesn’t really need you but you really love diving in, go ahead. These detours can help energize you and keep things fun. But maybe you can sidestep the fires that can and should be put out by someone else. And perhaps you can redirect your team when they try to get you sucked in to solving problems they are mostly capable of solving. So, where should your focus be?
Groom You’re A Team & Your B Team
When you don’t trust your management team, you often feel the need to step in and do things yourself that they should be doing. So really growing your managers deserves your attention. Not only should you work on making you’re A Team outstanding, you should be developing a solid B Team. People leave, circumstances change, and the most prepared leaders havesme solid players ready to go on the bench at any given time.
Focus On Decisions That Move The Needle
You as a leader must focus on fundamentals, not incrementals. This means give your attention to areas of your organization where you can affect significant change that really moves you closer to your vision. As a leader, you aren’t in the game to play ball or even win one game, you are there to put together a team and win the series. Maybe you are even there to change the game.
Your vision for your company is likely a blend of your core values and your strategic direction. This vision is your main highway and your job as a leader is to make sure everyone is moving in the right direction. It’s okay to have people or teams lagging or not totally understand where they are going, and yet the different roads they are on should feed into the same main highway. It is up to you to point everyone in the direction of your vision and hand out the maps as needed.