“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” — John Wooden
Whether you’re a corporate warrior, lead a small team in a garage, or you are a one-person band,, there’s a strategy that works:
Focus on the highest-value activities.
Warrior Leaders that focus on high-value activities, help the team, help themselves, and help the business by focusing on the essential and concentrating their efforts.
In the book, Warriors At The Helm: A Leader’s Guide to Success in Business, author Juan Carlos Marcos reminds us that the most effective leaders, focus on the minimum set of high-value activities.
Some Leaders Don’t Know How to Say No
Effective Warrior Leaders know how to say No to lower value activities, so they can focus on higher-value outcomes.
“Some leaders don’t know how to say no and therefore over-commit themselves and their people. Some leaders are addicted to activity. Their logic is that if there is a lot of work and a lot of things going on, they are doing well. The reality is that unfocused activity is just that. Warrior Leaders constantly ensure that they are focused on the few but most value-added activities that will have the biggest influence on achieving results.
Corporations are complex, with different functions trying to do their part to contribute to the success of the enterprise.“
Warrior Leaders Challenge How Activities Contribute to the Goals
If you want people to stick to the strategies and the priorities, you need to first articulate them clearly. From there, you can challenge whether activities help support the cause.
Via Warriors At The Helm: A Leader’s Guide to Success in Business”
”To achieve true focus, all functions within an enterprise have to be on the same page regarding key strategies and the actions necessary to achieve them. This is harder to do than it may appear. First, it requires clear communication about the strategies. More importantly, it requires commitment from everyone on the few key strategies. One way to obtain commitment is to require each major department within that enterprise to clearly articulate how what they do or what they may be asking other departments to do will contribute to the achievement of the key strategies. If departments are recommending or imposing expectations on others that do not contribute to the achievement of strategies, Warrior Leaders challenge them and, if appropriate, eliminate these activities.”
Warrior Leaders Eliminate Non-Essential Activities
To help everybody stay focused, Warrior Leaders eliminate or push non-essential activities down the priority stack.
“At times, in order to retain focus, a shift in resources may be required. Fiduciary responsibilities may not contribute anything to producing better products or services, but to ignore those invites legal and safety concerns. Accordingly, the enterprise must have the necessary resources to ensure that fiduciary responsibilities are executed but never lose sight of the primary strategies. For anything that does not fall under the fiduciary responsibility umbrella, every function needs to ask, ‘Is what we do contributing to the key strategies of the enterprise?’ Warrior Leaders ensure that activities that are not essential to execution of the key strategies are eliminated or pushed down the priority list.”
Do a Few Things Well
The fewer the better, so you can channel your focus..
“Think of your daily life. Most of us have literally hundreds of things that we wish we could do and that we have to do. Those of us who do not focus and prioritize invariably fall into one of two camps. You try to be all things to all people and soon realize that you are not doing anything well and pleasing no one. Then there are those who do only what they like to do and ignore the rest. That usually leads to some disaster down the road. Whether it is your personal or corporate life, to succeed requires clear strategies and goals. The fewer goals and strategies you pursue, the better. Ask yourself: Would I rather do a lot of things at a mediocre level or would I rather do fewer things at an excellent or outstanding level?”
Check If It’s Working
Keep your eyes on the prize, but check whether you are actually making progress in the right direction.
“To agree and commit to the highest value-added strategies and activities for the enterprise is important. However, regular and brutally honest calibration about progress or failures is also important. If changes in resources or tactics are necessary, they should be made. Blind commitment to strategies that are not working is a drain on the organization’s people and its assets.”
Keep in mind that focus is not a static thing.
New challenges, issues, and distractions will compete for your attention on a daily basis.
The Warrior Leader rises above the noise and finds the higher ground through fierce focus on the vital few outcomes and essential activities that really matter.
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Image by Sebastien Bertrand.