You’ve heard the saying that the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, location. But do business leaders know the most important business factors, especially in times when everyone is feeling uneasy and distracted?
To state the obvious, it’s not location. No company is guaranteed to weather this kind of storm better in one region of the country than another. It’s not a matter of where you’re headquartered, or if you’re working in the office or from home.
It is the need for focus.
And by focus I’m not implying the need to push people to work harder (although in some cases that might be necessary). I mean a renewed focus on the things that are within your control versus those outside of it.
Right now there are more variables distracting and affecting organizations than normal: health concerns, vaccine rollouts, social issues, political tension, economic challenges, strained supply chains, and the possibility of policy changes that will affect the way businesses operate. All of these are weighing heavily on the people who make businesses run. They are legitimate issues and real distractions, making the simple notion of focus seem much harder to maintain.
Focus on what the business needs
Depending on your company’s situation, your focus is going to be different.
For example, a client of mine who has a business in the home improvement category is yet to install all that was sold in 2020 and has a significant backlog. His ability to replicate that growth isn’t realistic. In the immediate term, his focus is to flawlessly execute on a mountain of existing sales. That doesn’t mean ongoing sales efforts don’t matter. But if referrals and word-of-mouth sales are bottom-line drivers, then working through the backlog and focusing on customer satisfaction becomes the prioritized focus.
That’s a clear internal focus where alignment and execution must occur. Others might need the opposite, such as a renewed focused on sales as we begin to see more in-person contact. Or diversifying a supplier base and supply chain that hasn’t kept up with demand or higher costs caused by tariffs. Leaders need to be asking: what deserves our focus right now? What requires more or all hands on deck to see us through the near term? What are those disproportionately few things that make the critical difference between failure and survival, or a decent year versus a great one?
That’s half of the equation. Leaders also need to be attuned to their internal team’s ability to focus.
Focus on what my team needs
Leaders have to assess what their people need right now. Do they need more or better acknowledgment for the work they’re already doing? Do they need a fire lit underneath them to accomplish what must get done? Or do they need to work differently – perhaps in ways that afford greater, concentrated bursts of attention beyond what a standard work day has always dictated?
Leaders who know their people well and have established a strong company culture should have more options on how to improve the performance of their leadership team in comparison to those whose culture and connections are superficial. In 2020, most businesses have been forced to work differently. The goal now is to assess what worked, what hasn’t, and what is still needed in order to work more effectively. (For more on culture, you can access this professional management assessment with specific questions focused to culture).
CEOs and leaders need to help their teams manage multiple distractions if they want to come out of this pandemic stronger. Outstanding leaders will know where to best focus efforts, and possess the emotional intelligence to know how to energize and support their teams on things that are within their control.