Focused or Obsessive? What Kind of Leader are You? by Jim Johnson


In business, successful people are focused. They know the difference between the truly important and that which is urgent. They know their goals. They look for the next challenge that will lead to more success. They keep their eyes on the prize in spite of obstacles.


Aren’t successful leaders really obsessing as well? Aren’t focus and obsession the same thing?

Obsession: “the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image or desire.” Synonyms: fetish, neurosis, craze, delusion

Focus: “close or narrow attention, concentration, or center of interest or activity.”
Synonyms: target, core, center, heart

From those definitions, these two words are clearly not the same.

Obsession has inherent blind spots. When someone is obsessed, they rarely see anything else. Their hunger and thirst for the object of their obsession blinds them to everything else – sometimes at their own peril. A drug addict or alcoholic is willing to sacrifice all for their obsession. Finances, family and friends are easily tossed aside in favor of their obsession.

Think about Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”. His whole being was transformed on his quest to have and keep his “precious”. He lost everything for the ring – ultimately his own life.

Obsessions reveal mental/emotional weaknesses and even sickness. Obsessions are extremely selfish. Yes, at the center of an obsession is the desire to satisfy the self.

While being focused has a narrow concentration on a target, it is not to the exclusion of all else.

* Focus knows the target and modifies behavior to reach that target.
* Focus uses information and resources gathered from the surrounding environment to achieve results.
* Focus has a core – a center – the goal.

Many leaders today confuse these two words. The ineffective leader obsesses about his/her reputation, personal power, self-worth as they lord over their staff. Hitting goals becomes personal and not achieving goals becomes a personal affront.

Focused leaders are effective leaders. They empower others. They educate. They encourage their teams to succeed.

Focused leaders understand the targets and can clearly communicate them to others. They understand the story behind the numbers and they enjoy helping others understand.

Focused leaders know its not all about them. They know that an efficient, effective, educated team accomplishes far more with them than with an obsessive boss.

Focused leaders coach their team toward goals that strengthen the company and bring success built upon success.

Keys to Being Focused:

1. Understand your goals. What is needed to make your company successful? Know your metrics.
2. Align your activity around those goals.
3. Make sure your team understands and acts on the corporate goals.
4. Coach your team toward goal achievement.
5. Filter. If a project, activity or attitude doesn’t move you, your team, or the company forward, ditch it. You don’t have time to waste.

Each of us as leaders has choices everyday. Focus is your key to success.

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