The Power of Focus in Leadership and Project Success

Targets are hard to see when we are not focused, and you have no chance of hitting them when you cannot see them clearly.

Once we have that focus, we need to share this with our teams so that they have a clear understanding too. This clip from Monty Python clearly shows what will happen when our teams lack focus.

As leaders, if we haven’t clearly shared our focus with our teams, then we will end up spending the first part of our projects regrouping our teams and getting them back on track, if we can catch up with them that is.

If we are unsure of our ultimate destination, then at least telling our teams the general direction will ensure that they don’t stray too far from the right track, and our efforts to regroup them will be lower.

I worked on a very complex project back in 2001; we had to deliver a large system within 3 months rather than 18 months, and we had 350 people on the project. The project was due to start the first week of January, so I ended up doing quite a bit of work over Christmas.

My boss told me to chill out, take a vacation over Christmas, and look to start in the first week of January like everyone else.

However, given that I was the leader of the project, I felt it was better for me to spend that week over Christmas and New Year planning, ensuring that I could communicate the direction to the teams from the first minute rather than wait until after we had started.

If I allowed 350 people to set off without clarity, then I would spend the majority of the first month trying to get them back on track, which would require more work and be more stressful than spending one week preparing, and ultimately we would have failed.

We need to have a clear focus, and we need to share that with our teams. The better and earlier we can do that, the higher the probability of our success.

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