Focus is the elimination of options. Focus is the discipline of saying no to all but the few things that are most important. Leaders provide that focus.
A leader is often presented with countless opportunities. There is always an endless stream of ideas, some of them good, a few of them great, and a very small number that are compelling. A leader has to protect the organization he leads from most of these opportunities to pursue the few opportunities that will deliver their strategic objectives.
Not every potential client is worth pursuing. They’re not all created equal. Some of your prospective clients are going to be willing to work with you, provided you do something way outside your core competencies. It can sound and feel like a good idea to gain new competencies, but it is almost always a distraction.
There are countless change initiatives that would help you improve your efficiencies or improve your operational capabilities. There are now hundreds of things you could be doing better. But you must deploy the limited time, energy, and psychic bandwidth against only the most important initiatives.
There is always some new, shiny object that captures your attention as a leader. It might be social selling. It might be big data. It might be the latest and greatest sales methodology. You cannot ignore the major political, economic, societal, and technological trends that are reshaping the world in this Disruptive Age. But you also can’t allow your team to tackle projects that aren’t going to produce the results you need, and you can’t allow them to spread their effort across so many initiatives that nothing gets done as well–or completely–as it needs to be.
Leadership requires that you say no to all but the few, critical, strategic initiatives that are going to move the organization you lead into the future. Saying no to small things is the only way to protect the time and energy necessary to say yes to big things.