The Focused Leader

Daniel Goleman, HBR 12/13

A PRIMARY TASK OFGoleman Focus
LEADERSHIP IS TO
DIRECT ATTENTION.
Grouping these modes of attention into three
broad buckets—focusing on yourself, focusing on
others, and focusing on the wider world—sheds
new light on the practice of many essential leadership skills. Focusing inward and focusing constructively on others helps leaders cultivate the primary elements of emotional intelligence. A fuller understanding
of how they focus on the wider world can
improve their ability to devise strategy, innovate,
and manage organizations.
Every leader needs to cultivate this triad of
awareness, in abundance and in the proper balance,
because a failure to focus inward leaves you rudderless,
a failure to focus on others renders you clueless,
and a failure to focus outward may leave you
blindsided.
Focusing on Yourself
Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness—
getting in touch with your inner voice. Leaders who
heed their inner voices can draw on more resources
To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention.
When we speak about being focused, we commonly mean thinking about one thing while filtering out distractions.
But a wealth of recent research in neuroscience shows that we focus in many ways, for different purposes, drawing on different neural pathways—some of which work in concert, while others tend to stand in opposition.

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