Leaders & Focus


"Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought into focus" - Alexander Graham Bell

Time seems to fly by, and this year is no different. It's already December, which means 2019 is right around the corner. Regardless of what kind of business you're in, it doesn't seem like 2019 is going to be any less tricky to navigate than 2018 was. 

There are so many things coming at us as leaders these days. And each of them presents itself as though it's the most important item on your agenda. Every fire your're supposed to put out is the hottest one, every call you have to answer is the most urgent one, etc. So, you spend your day moving faster than the speed of sound in 20 different directions- and not really feeling like you're getting anywhere.

There are very few things more important to a leader than focus. I don't just mean that the organisation as a whole needs to be focused, although it does. I'm talking about you personally, as the leader. What do you actually spend your time doing? Unfortunately, for most leaders, the answer is probably that you spend most of your time oiling the squeakiest wheel.

It can't be that way. Your skills and abilities need to be applied where you can have the most impact. Too many leaders spend most of their careers doing things they're not very good at because they get pulled into it and can't get out. You can't let that happen. 

Every year I ask myself the same four questions. This isn't original; I borrowed it from somebody else. Here they are:

  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What do I need to delegate to someone else here at the firm?
  • What do I need to outsource to an expert?
  • What do I need to re-engineer?

Think about the impact it could have on your ability to focus if you came up with just one answer to each question (hint: there are many answers to those questions). What would it mean to get those things off your plate?

If you're serious about effectively leading your business, you have to determine where you spend your time, and you have to be ruthless about it. Without focus you'll be constantly busy without ever accomplishing anything. With it, you'll begin accomplishing the things that matter most to you.

Article reproduced with the kind permission of Matt Heemstra

Matt is a director of Cain Ellsworth & Co. LLP, USA.

For over fifteen years, he has worked with small and mid-size businesses helping them to envision their future and then make it happen.

Matt heads up Growth & Profit solutions (GPS), a division of Cain Ellsworth