Why Is Focus Important in Leadership
The quality of a leader is not only determined by the quality of their skills, but also by how they focus their attention, especially when leading through uncertainty.
Focus can be described as the degree to which a person is able to concentrate their mental resources. It has been found that leaders who can focus for longer periods are more likely to be successful than those who cannot.
Leadership focus is the ability of a leader to focus on their objective and not lose sight of it as they do their job. In this way, they can put their full attention into what they are doing and how they can best manage any obstacles that might come up. This will lead to them being able to better solve problems as well as be better leaders overall.
In the current economic climate, every organization is trying to figure out how to improve their productivity and performance at work. The most important aspect of this is the focus of leadership because it is this that provides a clear understanding of what needs to be done and a clear vision for the future to drive a successful company.
How to Develop Your Leadership Focus
When we look at leadership from a broad perspective, there are two main types of leadership styles: task-oriented and people-oriented.
People-oriented and task-oriented leadership behaviors can be analyzed by considering whether the leader is able to separate themselves from the day-to-day tasks that need completing and take the time necessary to understand what motivates each individual working under them.
The Benefits of Task-Oriented Leadership
A task-oriented leader will focus on tasks, deadlines, schedules, and productivity. A people-oriented leader will focus on understanding what drives their employees and how they can help them grow.
Among the benefits of task-oriented leadership is that task-oriented leaders are focused on accomplishing the task at hand by giving clear instructions to other people. This can be crucial when urgency is required.
However, task-oriented leaders tend to be micromanagers. This can lead to decreased motivation and a lack of creativity. Employee turnover can be higher, with disengaged employees seeking more challenging opportunities elsewhere.
Advantages and Disadvantages of People-Oriented Leadership
People-oriented leadership focuses on empowering employees and establishing relationships with them. The goal is for leaders to serve as a friend and mentor while still providing guidance and feedback, usually operating in a flattened management hierarchy.
While decision-making is slower, employees are more engaged, motivated, and innovative.
Where Should Your Leadership Focus Be – Task-Oriented or People-Oriented?
The best leaders are highly focused on achieving goals. They focus on the results and not the process. They delegate to their team, expecting them to achieve set objectives. The best way to do this is by clearly defining goals from the outset and tracking progress.
However, there are occasions when a leader must focus on the task itself. As an ideal, leaders should be able to move fluidly between task- and people-oriented leadership styles. However, we all have a propensity for either task or people leadership. Answer these questions to help you discover yours:
Do you focus on how things are done, or the strategic focus?
Do you prefer your team to be highly structured and follow rigid procedures, or do you encourage innovation and creativity?
Do you set up your team in a hierarchical structure, or do you enjoy a community atmosphere?
Do you make the decisions, or do you ensure that everyone has input?
If your answers err to the first choices, you are naturally task-oriented. If they err to the second, you are naturally people-oriented.
Would you be a better leader if you could more easily combine the two styles, and select appropriately for given situations? What should your leadership focus be?
For more insight into developing and leading high-performing teams, read more about our Scaling Talent Workshops.