Power Up Results: Hundred-Watt Bulb or
Laser-Like Focus?

by Dr. Thomas D. Jonez


The Principle in Focus

There are several key ingredients which form the benchmarks of leadership.  Essentially skills, each can be developed by those who provide direction to Boards and Organizations.  Each skill can be mastered through a combination of understanding and practice, over time.

One primary leadership skill is the ability to focus an organization on its goal or mission.  Simply stated, a leader must be diligent to “keep the main thing the main thing.”

At first brush, this sounds elementary, even simple.  It is not.  Every leader faces a cacophony of  issues competing for attention.  Most such issues are “good” and often seem “urgent.”  Therein lies the problem.   It is easy to become driven by the tyranny of the “many things” instead of maintaining an unwavering focus on the right thing:  the core goal of the organization.

An example from the physics of light provides an apt analogy.  A one-hundred watt light bulb placed in a field at night without a lamp shade will become diffused within a very short distant.  At several dozen yards it becomes dim; at several miles it’s effectiveness is lost.  Not so with laser-light.  Highly focused laser-light is able, in extreme tests, to be aimed at the moon and bounced back to earth.  The difference between the two is the degree of concentration: as focus increases, so does the effectiveness of the light.

This principle can be applied to leadership.  A leader knows how to focus attention on the core goals of their organization.  In doing so, the leader is thereby able to focus the rest of the team - whether a board of directors or a work-group in a business - on priority tasks.  This will profoundly increase the effectiveness of the entire organization.

The Principle in Practice

What are some practical steps to implement the leadership skill of “clear focus” when applied at the organization or  “big picture” level?  Four key components emerge:

1. Know the Mission:  Recent popular business literature has been replete with the call to “develop a mission statement.”  In response, consultants are often hired to help leadership develop a mission statement.  Unfortunately, far too often, these statements are soon forgotten or simply become fancy logo material for the company letterhead.  In high contrast to this ceremonial approach to articulating a mission, the effective leader must absolutely know and personally believe the core focus of the organization and stick to it with all diligence.

2. Write the Mission:  The purpose of writing down the mission is not ceremony.  It is to clarify core objective of the organization.  Thoughtful writing can force the discipline of clear thinking and concise articulation.  As a result, the stated mission becomes the true mission.  The organization’s focus becomes more focused.  This is a good thing. Remember the laser beam.

3. Communicate the Mission:  Once the mission is clearly written, the effective leader communicates it to the team.  In speeches, private discussions, analogies, and, yes, core marketing messages - over and over - the message of the mission is repeated.  One organization with which we consulted had its company mission posted in every room, including each of its bathrooms and even in all of its closets!  Everywhere team members turned they were reminded of the focus of the organization.  It is no surprise that within five years that Company was listed by Inc. Magazine in the top one hundred of America’s 500 fastest growing companies.  Laser beam.  Total focus.

4. Reinforce the Mission:  Every time effective leader’s are asked a question by a fellow team member, the answer becomes a question in return, “In light of the organization’s mission, how would you answer your own question?”  Focus on the mission.  Too often is not too often to reinforce the mission.  The tighter the focus the better. Everything becomes tightly wrapped like a Taco Del Mar Burrito within the foil of the mission.  Total focus.  No distraction allowed – no matter how good or urgent it may appear.

In short, leadership involves key ingredients.  Each quality is a skill that can be developed by those who provide direction to Boards and Organizations.  By analogy, the difference between the effectiveness of a diffused one-hundred watt light bulb and a concentrated-laser-light hinges on a core leadership skill: the ability to develop and maintain clear focus.


The Author

Thomas Jonez

Dr. Thomas D. Jonez (“Tom”)is the President of Plumbline Management Corporation.  Dr. Jonez has over thirty years’ experience in business organizational leadership, including as CEO of an INC 500 company, consultant, non-profit agency director, private real estate investor, conference speaker and as the author of numerous articles on the topics of organizational development, marketing and leadership.  Contact Dr. Jonez at: plumblinemanagement@gmail.com

Many more articles in Creative Leadership in The CEO Refresher Archives

Copyright 2008 by
Thomas D. Jonez. All rights reserved.

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