Most leadership training focuses on the transactions of our work: projects to be coordinated, reports to write, and meetings to be held. These activities are important but in themselves are just items on the to do list. They help us reach goals, but without the proper focus, they simply keep us busy throughout our day.
The other morning I looked out my office window and was amazed to see huge snowflakes coming down. It was such a surprise after some early spring sunshine and warmer temperatures. Following the joy of this beautiful scene came the realization that I might need to remove that snow from my windshield. This observation did not bring joy or support a positive focus. Quickly I was aware of a choice: would I focus on the beauty and wonder, or would I focus on the extra work the snow created? I chose to focus on the first, which brought energy and meaning to the experience.
Likewise, as leaders there are many moments when we can choose to focus on obstacles rather than possibilities.
Yes, there is hard work in leadership and challenges we cannot predict. The more important the goal or project, the more obstacles will be experienced. Yet we always have the opportunity to guide and influence others to do great and meaningful work. We can appreciate that being a role model is a gift that challenges us to stretch and be our best.
During the COVID crisis many businesses experienced challenges as needs shifted and supplies were difficult to obtain. Some of those businesses closed, but others chose to focus on the new opportunities that emerged. For example, some breweries shifted to make hand sanitizer, bakeries sold ingredients to customers who couldn’t find them in stores, and some arenas became health care centers. These were not easy choices, but teams discovered so much more about what they could do and how they could serve the market in new ways.
When we choose to see our leadership through the lens of possibility and looking for new understanding, it totally changes our perspective. This new focus causes us to persevere, to do our best work, and to see our leadership as a privilege. It is also contagious and draws our teams and others to accept that life is full of surprises that can benefit us if we choose to embrace them.
Today choose to look at the appointments of your day, the challenges you have, and the people you lead as a wonderful part of your leadership. We are privileged to lead, have impact, and to serve others.
What focus will you choose today?