One of the most important and primary roles of a leader it direct attention and focus; both their own and those they lead. When they don’t, the ball gets dropped and everyone loses. When they do, they can thread the needle on just about anything.
I’ve talked about 6 factors to Leverage your Focus and 3 Keys to keeping it there. But neither of those matter if you don’t Focus on the right things. According to Dan Goleman, there are three foundational areas of focus a leaders must continually attend to and grow in order to lead with excellence:
- Inner focus- S+EI self-management competencies
- Other focus- S+EI relationship-management competencies (in particular empathy)
- Outer focus- What’s Outer focus?
Outer focus is the ability to “read” and discern the many forces that impact an organization’s vision, mission and ability to strategically execute. That means that regardless of whatever else he or she may be, the leader of today has to also be a “knowledge worker”.
What is a leader with Outer focus look like?
- They have a wider ranging curiosity
- Are open to new ideas
- Both listen well and ask powerful questions
- Have a knack for identifying important data within an ocean of information
- Can see the consequences of a decision today far into the future
- Understand the relationship between the systems
What does a leader with Outer focus do?
- Scan for new information daily
- Monitor not just conventional sources of information, but unusual sources
- Keep up with other industries in addition to their own
- Reach out to others
- Seamlessly integrate ideas and information that seem unrelated
- Implement information and relationship management systems
Another important characteristic of leaders with strong Outer focus is that they develop intentional habits that make all of the above nearly effortless. To do so means knowing What and How: What tool or practices and How to develop skills and related to those into habits so that execution becomes as effortless as possible. More about that next time.
With regard to my Outer focus characteristics, I do the best with curiosity and scanning for new information daily. The biggest gap and challenge for me is not letting myself get sidetracked as well as keeping up with what’s going on in other industries that affect my own.
How about you? How would you describe your Outer focus? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment on where you excel and where your gaps are. Together we can learn from each other how to best bridge those gaps and take our Outer focus of the next level.