The effectiveness of your business rests in its ability to concentrate. That ability to focus on what is most important is vital if your business is to outcompete others in its marketplace. But with all the noise that occurs in business these days combined with the detachment that remote working brings with it, the challenge of being able to concentrate is greater than ever before.
Active Knowledge Question:
Can your leaders communicate what is most important to their team and enable them to focus their best efforts?
Concentration is one’s capacity to apply themselves to a task where they bring their best to the forefront in application to that task. But every day, we commence with a limited amount of willpower, being our capacity to concentrate to our greatest ability on the tasks in front of us. Once we draw down on that reserve, our level of concentration diminishes. So, if we are going to perform at our very best, we must be careful where we apply our limited concentration.
The competitiveness of a business rests in the combined talent and effort of every person who works within and with the business. A leader’s key role is to muster that combined talent and effort to underpin the competitiveness of a business. And in doing so, enhancing the ability of every single person to improve their concentration is critical.
It Starts With Attitude
If you are serious about lifting the ability of your business to concentrate on what is most important, it starts with attitude. And by attitude, I am referring to a core cultural trait of how everyone in your business treats with everyone else. If a hierarchical structure typifies your business where seniority is important, you have a challenge ahead. But if your business operates as a community where everyone has a clear role, which interlocks with other roles, your task will be much easier.
Every person in a business has a vital role. No matter what that role maybe, if they do not perform it well, it will impact the competitiveness and performance of that business. And everyone understands how the business is designed to meet the needs of its customers and the value that it seeks to deliver. They know where they fit in and how what they do impacts everyone else.
This attitude of respect and valuing each other’s role and work is the starting point to lifting every single person’s ability to concentrate on what is important. Why? Because if they know others are counting on them, their work, their effort, and that they are respected and recognised for what they do, they will apply themself not to let their team down. They are part of a community that values and respects each person’s contribution.
It Then Requires Correct Design
There is an engine, a competitive engine, in your business that sets the floor and ceiling to the performance and success of your business. Its operation will determine how far performance can drop and how high it can reach.
It comprises ten interdependent elements, all of which impact a person’s willingness to contribute and participate. Clearly, if a person has no interest in contributing and participating, then their concentration will be at the bottom end of the scale.
A focus on your competitive engine is vital to the performance of your business. Here are three examples of elements of the engine:
- Purpose: for what purpose does your business exist? If you establish profit as the prime purpose of your business, it is not going to encourage concentration. The purpose must be ‘righteous’ and related to the consumer need in the market that your business exists to meet. People need to be able to feel pride in their daily work, and that is strongest when they are doing something they believe is worthwhile.
- Vision: have you cast a vision, a quest, for your business that entices people to join? If you set a compelling vision, people will want to pursue it. They will strive every day in pursuit of that quest.
- Worthy Leaders: do your leaders build trust and uplift others to do their best? The role of leaders is to allow everyone else to work at their best. If your leadership live this role, then concentration will be a natural outcome.
Two other aspects of the way you lead your business are instrumental in supporting concentration:
- Simple guiding principles are your guidance to the entire business as to what is most important in enabling the success of the business. These principles guide everyone in knowing where their focus should be in everything they do. They are the universal answers to all questions when it comes to the competitiveness of your business.
- The design approach of your organisation either empowers competitiveness or frustrates it. While the simple guiding principles guide actions, design allows those actions to be put into play in the most efficient way. The business is designed not around an organisational chart but around the customer value it seeks to deliver.
A Method To Individual Performance
As a business, it is well worthwhile developing an approach to ‘effective work’ that each person is inducted into to support them bring their best to the forefront. This effective work approach represents a tool kit that people may test and adopt what works best for them. The goal is to have each person reflecting on and testing what practices supports them to work at their best.
So, given that the culture of the business has seeded the right attitude and leadership has designed the business to support individual performance, what will enable effective work practices? Effective work practices can be built around three pillars that provide guidance and grant permission. Here are some brief thoughts:
1. Set The Foundation
There are routines that should be established as habits that support and enable you to bring your best to everything you do:
- Build a pattern as to when you sleep, wake, exercise, rest, play, eat and sustain that pattern, ensuring there is a healthy balance across these activities.
- The balance between strain and recovery is vital, and you should ensure that you continually build upon your existing fitness and strength levels.
- Daily meditation supports your creativity, vitality and simply rest for the mind and brings peace.
- What you consume makes you who you are. This is not just what, how much or when you eat and drink, but you what read, listen to and immerse your mind into.
Establish a foundation that allows you to be your best.
2. Know Yourself
The best investment you can make is in yourself:
- Introspection is vital if you wish to personally grow. And that introspection has to be reinforced with humility. Some people struggle with the concept of not being right all the time, but you can only learn if you are not right. Opening your mind to the views, practices and actions of others, reading outside your field and having an inquisitive mind will only feed your capability.
- We all have capabilities in which we excel and areas that we are not particularly good at. And while you may seek to build up in those areas where you are weak, a greater return is typically gained by focusing on the areas in which you excel.
- We all have times of the day at which we work well and times which we don’t. Understand your cycle and, if possible, undertake your most important work at that time of day which you are at your best.
Invest in yourself and allow your best to come to the forefront.
3. Protect Your Space
When you shift into work mode, it is important that you protect that time from distraction and are able to concentrate on what role you play in the business:
- Know what is most important and place your attention to these. There will be matters that are:
- Flagged as urgent because someone else has forgotten to attend to them. Someone else’s lack of planning should not become your urgent matter.
- Necessary but which don’t require much effort; attend to these in your less productive time of the day.
- Vital as they represent your core role in the business, and which others rely on you doing to your best ability: attend to these during your peak performance times.
- Manage interruptions: emails, meetings, telephone calls, passing conversations and all the other things that pull your attention away when you are in your best working mode. Seek to attend to these outside your peak times and schedule them into your day to create a routine.
- Support others and seek support: Be willing to assist others in need and be willing to step up and ask for help. You are part of a team that respect and value each other, so make sure that remains real.
Structure your days so your most important work is undertaken when you are at your best.
We do not spend enough time enabling our teams or ourselves to work at their/our best on a consistent basis. And a basis on which we compound. Small steps in this direction will make a significant impact on performance.
An entirely new level of performance.
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All the best in the success of your business,