Leaders must choose where to focus their attention. José Ortega y Gasset, a Spanish philosopher and essayist, said, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” What leaders focus on expands in opening up or shutting down possibilities.
If leaders focus on weaknesses, the weaknesses expand. When leaders focus on ideas and behaviors they value, they grow.
What do you want to expand in opening up possibilities? Here are two examples.
- You do an employee satisfaction survey that says 92% of the employees are happy. Most leaders would be inclined to interview the unhappy 8%, instead of asking the 92% what you did to make them happy. What do you want to expand? Employee happiness. So, find out what is making employees happy and maximize on it.
- People look to leaders for answers. Even if you don’t know the answer, you give one. The focus of your attention is your ego – I’m supposed to know the answer. What do you want to expand? Engagement of others that generates new thinking. So, ask a question, “What do you think our change process should consider? What do you think would be best for the organization?”
Here are a few tips to help you focus your attention that expands possibilities.
- Choose your focus. “When you start looking for what’s good, you create more of that.”
- Begin applying Appreciative Inquiry processes which looks for what works in an organization.
- Ask questions to engage people and ignite passion.
- Acknowledge people for a great job, coming up with a new process, learning from a mistake, or the person’s enthusiastic spirit.
(Adapted from Pause: 52 Ways to Shift Any Outcome in Less Than a Minute – Practical Mindfulness for Leaders by Inspired Mastery)