The art of being focused leads to leadership. Study reveals that leadership skills can be nurtured by means of focusing on ‘oneself’, focusing on ‘others’ and focusing on the ‘greater globe’. Striking a proper balance between self-introspection as well as constructive focus on others enables a true leader gaining emotional intelligence (self-awareness and getting in touch with inner voice), acumen to innovate and above all devise strategies to manage his or her respective organizations.
Our beloved and amiable Father of Nation (Bapu) Mahatma Gandhi is an
instance par excellence. Besides, most of our great men have already
carved a niche in this regard.
Swami Vivekananda’s clarion call for character-building and nation-building was ‘first be, then make’.
It has been experimented and concluded that failure to focus inward
leaves one rudderless while failure to focus on others renders one
clueless. Needless to mention that failure to focus outward can render
Leaders heeding inner voices can get armed with resources to make
Paying attention is a mental muscle that can be geared up practising
right kind of exercise. The time-tested and okayed essential exercise
is meditation as it builds up concentration and calmness, and heals
stress and strain.
It has been discovered that players, attuned to the rhythm of their
breathing, experience the strengthening of selective attention as a
feeling of calm focus as inculcated in meditation.
Great leaders possess three vital skills. First is the ability to
engage others in shared meaning like diving into a chaotic work
environment to mobilise employees around an entirely new approach to
management. Second is a distinctive and compelling voice. Third is a
sense of integrity that means including a strong set of values.
Zeroing in on sensory impressions of ourselves at the need of hour is
one major element of self-awareness while combining our experiences
across time into a coherent view of our authentic selves is another
crucible experience of leadership.
Just as a camera lens can be set narrowly on a single point or more
widely to take in a panoramic view, one can focus tightly or
Strengthening the ability to maintain open awareness requires leaders
to do something that verges on the unnatural: cultivate at least
sometimes a willingness to not be in control, not offer up their own
views and not judge others. That is less a matter of deliberate action
than of attitude adjustment.
One path to making that adjustment is through the classic power of
positive thinking, because pessimism narrows our focus, whereas
positive emotions widen our attention and our receptiveness to the new
Cognitive control enables executives to pursue a goal despite
distractions and setbacks. The same neural circuitry that allows such
a single-minded pursuit of goals also manages unruly emotions. Good
cognitive control can be seen in people who stay calm in a crisis,
tame their own agitation, and recover from a debacle or defeat.
Executives who can effectively focus on others emerge as natural
leaders regardless of organisational or social rank.
How we focus holds the key to exercising willpower.
The stronger the cognitive control, the less susceptible we are to distraction.
When confronted by an upsetting problem, let us think of a traffic
signal. The red light means stop, calm down, and think before you act.
The yellow light means slow down and think of several possible
solutions. The green light means try out a plan and see how it works.
Whenever one notices that the mind has wandered, one can simply return
The word “attention” comes from the Latin attendere, meaning “to reach
toward.” This is a perfect definition of focus on others, which is the
foundation of empathy and of an ability to build social
relationships-the second and third pillars of emotional intelligence.
Executives who can effectively focus on others are easy to recognise.
They are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the
most weight, and with whom other people want to work. They emerge as
natural leaders regardless of organisational or social rank.
We talk about empathy most commonly as a single attribute. But a close
look at where leaders are focusing when they exhibit it reveals three
distinct kinds (cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and emphatic
concern), each important for leadership effectiveness.
While cognitive empathy is the ability to understand another person’s
perspective, emotional empathy is the ability to feel what someone
else feels and emphatic concern is the ability to sense what another
person needs from you.
Cognitive empathy enables leaders to explain themselves in meaningful
ways, a skill essential to think about feelings rather than to feel
them directly. It is also an outgrowth of self-awareness.
Emotional empathy is important for effective mentoring, managing
clients and reading group dynamics.
Empathic concern, closely related to emotional empathy, enables us to
sense not just how people feel but what they need from you. It is what
one wants in one’s doctor, spouse and boss.
Research suggests that as people rise through the ranks, their ability
to maintain personal connections suffers.
Getting a grip on our impulse to empathise with other people’s
feelings can help us make better decisions when someone’s emotional
flood threatens to overwhelm us.
Hence, let’s place attention centre stage so that we can direct it
wherever and whenever needed.
And thus, let’s learn to master our attention, and, Presto! we’ll be
in command of where our and our organisation focus. After all, the
time-tested and okayed mantra goes: Being focused paves path for a
bona fide leadership.