Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The focused leader

My highlights of: The focused leader. By Daniel Goleman. Harvard Business Review, December 2013

A focused leader directs attention simultaneously to others and to the wider world, driving organizational effectiveness and a successful strategy.

Become self aware of a broad range of emotions and gut feelings. Look for internal signals all the time, so called somatic marks.
Combining your experiences across time into a coherent view of your authentic self. Authentic means being the same inside and outside. Needs high levels of perception on how others see us. 
Good cognitive control leads to be calm in crisis, tame agitation and can recover from debacle or defeat. The marshmallow test in kids predicts financial success and law abiding.
3 subvarieties of willpower against self-gratification: 1- ability to voluntarily disengage focus from an object of desire; 2- ability to resist distraction so not to gravitate back to that object; 3- ability to concentrate on an alternative goal and how well you will feel when achieving it.

Empathy and building social relationships are the 2nd and 3rd pillars of emotional intelligence.
The empathy triad: 
Cognitive empathy: enables leaders to explain themselves, need to think more than feel. Very inquisitive, trying to find what drives others, based on what we know about us.
Emotional empathy: important for effective mentoring, reading group dynamics. Springs from ancient parts of the brain beneath the cortex: amigdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus and orbitofrontal cortex. They tune us to sense emotional status of others.
Empathic concern: an intuition-deliberation mix, you sense what the other person needs from you and decide how you can help. Related to the release of oxytocin, the chemical for caring. Must find a balance to avoid being callous or have compassion fatigue. 

Need social sensitivity, understand context, implicit norms and mental models. Universal algorithm of etiquette, good manners. Understanding organization influencers and personal connections helps focus on persuading key people.
Higher ranked people tend to interrupt or monopolize the conversation. Mapping response times across an organization shows power networks. 

Leaders focusing outward are good listeners and questioners, visionaries that sense far-flung consequences of choices today. Eg Bill Gates deep dive into fertilizers and the way it saved lives.

Focusing on strategy: 
The 2 pillars are: exploitation of current advantage and exploration of new ones. Innovation requires reflection.

The wellsprings of innovation:
Not anymore about having data or info, value arises from putting ideas together in novel ways and asking smart questions, creating new associations. It happens by a mix of focus and free wandering. 

Best emotional leaders are in touch with their inner feelings, control their impulses, aware of how others perceive them, understand what others need from them, can weed out distractions and allow their minds to roam widely, free on preconceptions.
This types of focus require diligence to pay attention to the right circuits of the brain. Attention is the basis for emotional, organizational, and strategic intelligence. Beware that the wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. Master your attention and you will be in command.

Attention is a mental muscle. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Meditation and breathing helps focus.
Exercise to let go of control: not offer own views, not judge others.
Think positive, because pessimism narrows out focus.

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