Life in today’s society is one of intense busyness, information overload, and time deficiency. For the everyday citizen, it is nearly impossible to focus on any one thing for very long, if at all. For leaders, this is exponentially more difficult with the high level of responsibility, number of people led, and the production metrics measuring their every move. With so many demands, it is difficult to choose what to focus on and how much focus should be dedicated to a given area. In essence, focus is an exercise of will-power on self-control to be aware of yourself, others, and the wider world. (Goleman, 2013, p. 52)
The ability to focus on one’s self, or self-awareness, is the open door to emotional intelligence. Self-awareness may be considered an inner voice (Goleman, 2013, p.52) giving personal feedback. This personal feedback is highly valuable as long as it guides the leader to grow and develop to meet the other two areas of focus.
The two remaining areas of focus are others and the wider world. The ability for leaders to focus on others and the world around them is where focus begins to truly benefit a leader. This brings an external perspective for the leader that opens the door to selfless leading grounded in service. As a servant leader, the first responsibilities become relationships and people over task and product. (Stone, 2005, p. 11) This shift in focus from things to people nurtures an environment of security for the followers allowing them to act with the organization in mind while the leader focuses on the followers. (Stone, 2005, p. 11) With their second level (Hagerty, 1999, p. 250) needs met, followers increase productivity and buy-in, benefiting the organization.
Goleman, D. (2013). The Focused Leader. Harvard Business Review, 91(12), 50–60.
Hagerty, M. R. (1999). Testing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: National Quality-of-Life across Time. Social Indicators Research, 46(3), 249–271.
Stone, G., & Patterson, Kathleen. (2005). History of Leadership Focus. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable, (August).