Narrow your Focus

The power of a narrow focus

In supporting CEOs I have always encouraged being disciplined to have a “one-line job description” of “Keeper of the Vision“. That means allowing others to run the business, with the focus of the CEO is purely on ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction towards the Vision and also, crucially, living the Purpose and Values.

Typically this means they are looking at “what’s next” over time frames in the 1,3,5 year range, being Strategic rather than Operational.

However, this has to change now for the Covid-19 crisis. Leaders must narrow their focus in order to lead with confidence.

Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard

US Navy Seals adage

When an infantry patrol comes under enemy fire, they aren’t thinking about their vision for the coming years, they act by instinct according to their training and radio in a “SitRep”, a situation report, which addresses the here and now so that they and their command can determine the immediate actions needed.

As I write this, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to follow a predictable path in the next month or two. It will be exponential and it will be highly challenging, including emotionally as well as the pressure of all of the changes we have seen and will see for our day to day lives and our businesses.

It is key for leaders, now more than ever, to lead with confidence. In order to be able to do this, at this moment it is vital to narrow your focus, and sharply. Once you do this, the key is to be proactive with next steps for this narrowly focussed period.

Focus on the next 1,3,5 weeks, not the next 1,3,5 years. In that way, one can lead the creation of next steps and then lead with confidence.

None of us knows with any certainty what will happen after the next few weeks, so for now, lead with confidence with the narrow focus of the next few weeks, and, always, lead from who you are, lead from your Purpose and Values.

Also published on Medium.