3 min read

3 Suggestions For Unlocking the Answers to Leadership Success

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Experts in leadership development say things like, “You should focus. You need to eliminate the distractions. Commit to doing one thing to grow and become great at that thing.” This is good advice. The more I study successful leaders from all walks of business, manufacturing, financial, tech, Fortune 1000, entrepreneurial -- the more I believe focus is a core factor of success.

But there are problems with this advice too:

  • Of the many options in front of you, how do you know what to focus on? How do you know where to direct your energy and attention? How do you determine the one thing that you should commit to doing?
  • I am as guilty as the next Executive Coach of providing clients with an overwhelming amount of insight generated by 360 degree tools, self awareness inventories, stakeholder interview feedback and performance feedback. How useful is this if we don’t pare things down to the most important things and how do we decide what that is?
  • Options for ways to develop your leadership are abundant. Classes, books, coaches, training, mentoring. You have limited energy, time and resources to commit to your growth. How do you know which approach to take to change the trajectory of your performance?

I don’t pretend to have the silver bullet for this focus dilemma but, I can offer 3 suggestions to unlocking the answers to leadership success, based on what I’ve learned in my 25 years working as an Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant.

STEP 1: Focus on context: 

Match your strategy for growth to the situation you are in. Where are you working? What is the culture? What do your key stakeholders expect of you? How does your boss define success?

After you understand what success looks like in your situation, then go back to the insight you have about yourself. Reflect on what is the one most critical leadership competency that would take your ability to succeed even greater if you developed higher levels of mastery in this area?

Then go back to your boss and have a discussion about whether your one thing is indeed an area of leadership they believe would support you to move the needle toward successful results that is good for you and good for the company. If it is, then you are likely going to be spending your time wisely.

STEP 2: Focus on Fundamentals: 

Once you have determined a focused area to develop, then you need a simple plan to support your one thing to work on. I strongly recommend you read the bestselling book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller and you will have a road map for how to implement a surprisingly simple method for working on your one thing.

Keller’s mantra is “You don’t have too many things to do. You just do too many things.” So adding your development plan into your already too-jam-packed schedule is not easy. Every client I work with has to face this dilemma. I can personally vouch for this book as being a game changer for my productivity, as well as every client I have recommended this book to.

STEP 3: Focus on Your Brain

You may be noticing that information about brain science is exploding. New fMRI technology for seeing inside the brain is creating a whole new field of information to help us know what it takes to use our brain’s full potential. There are important things we can use hard science for to support effectiveness such as: emotion regulation, bias, stress, mindfulness and so much more. Knowing how to work with the way you are hard wired can exponentially accelerate your performance.

The challenge is that brain science is not what most of us have learned or do for a living. So learning about our brain works, even when it is very helpful to know, is another distraction.

There are some great books you can read on this topic that can quick start your knowledge like Your Brain at Work by David Rock. But when it comes to really getting a quick handle on what you personally could benefit to utilize from the field of neuroscience, I suggest working with a leadership practitioner who has taken the time to deepen their knowledge in using brain-based development strategies. I am encouraged to see many of my colleagues at recent global conferences sharing and learning more about this important topic. This has been my one thing recently and I recently completing a certificate in the Foundations of Neuroleadership sponsored by the Neuroleadership Institute.

At a time when there has never been more people in the coaching profession, this could be a one thing differentiator to help you focus on who you would want to work with to help you get the most focused support to help you with your one thing.

What do you think your One Thing is? Tell us Below!

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