Focus vs. Priority : amongst the most frequently interchanged verbs of leader-speak, and by a long way the mistake that irritates me most consistently
Count the priorities you are given carefully – in my book if you have more than one then your leadership has failed you; very happy that you have multiple focus areas that support and validate your priority but please, you can really only be successful in achieving a single priority.
If you manage a team (let’s use the Sports team analogy), you may have a pretty clear priority at the start of the game. Win it.
Support your priority with focus areas:
- focus on defence
- focus on offence
- focus on fair play
but the priority remains and resolves conflicts for resources or time – let’s say that a stakeholder has asked for more profitability. Should that become the new priority? you can’t have both “win” and “profitability” as priorities since they are clearly in conflict in many circumstances. If I allow both – should I sell my start player for a profit? If I pick just one as the priority and then the other can be a focus area in support of the priority and it all makes perfect sense. Refuse to compromise and drive for clarity in a single priority supported by focus areas.
What process should we as leaders use to boil our imperatives, goals, commitments blah blah to a priority and supporting focus areas?
Enlightened Self Interest is my favourite tool – what result is likely to see me [promoted, rewarded, respected, admired] insert what ever tickles your ego here
Test it out, if I call blah my priority, what are the focus areas I need to support that priority. Now test again, are any of these focus areas more properly the priority?
Go, start now!