Leadership: Focus and Finish

10434538875_f376fa9981Recently I noticed two key themes that together have important applications to business leadership. The first was the Seattle Seahawks Coach, Pete Carroll's admonition to his team all season, "It doesn't matter how you start. It's how you finish!" The powerful demonstration of the value of his challenge was displayed in the NFL Championship game where his team came from a 16 point deficit in the last two minutes to a win and thereby qualify for the Super Bowl. The second was a mantra repeated by Navy Seal Chris Kyle in the movie American Sniper, "Aim small to hit small." The clarity this provided him allowed him to become the most successful sniper in American history. Without engaging in an argument about his role and job, let's ask how does this mantra translate to business? Focus narrowly to get specific desired results.

Merging the two ideas says if you want to produce reliable outcomes focus as specifically and rigorously as you can on the details of those outcomes and be sure to stay with your efforts until the results are produced -finish!

A number of other capacities occur in common between the two cases - presence, clarity, and constant practice are disciplines and the results are demonstrable. Success in both requires a very high level of individual self-expression and yet an equally high level of collaboration with the team. Special forces are known for these capacities and so are the Seahawks football players.

What Does This Mean for You as a Leader?

  • Have a very clear target - vision/mission, goal, or objective and keep describing the attributes in increasing detail as you proceed.
  • Be present - to "ground truth" or the way that it is and the way that it isn't as you proceed.
  • Develop clarity - keep identifying and displacing roadblocks, potholes and distractions that can obscure the target.
  • Nurture self-expression - Commit to each team member, (and especially yourself), to develop and bring their unique talents and skills to the work.
  • Foster collaboration - be "all in" (another Pete Carroll-ism) for the shared goal and for each other.
  • Keep refocusing - "reality" blurs your line of sight to the goal on a regular basis and it is far easier to drift off course than to stay on it.
  • Finish - Stay with it, even if observers have written off your success

photo credit: Sepia Grunge Sign - Viewing Area via photopin (license)