I wish that I still had 20/20 vision, but many years have slipped by and the time is coming for reading glasses – although reasonably inexpensive, they have the profound ability of bringing text back into focus again and I no longer need to squint to see that which is before me. In geometrical optics, a focus (also called an image point) is the point where light rays originating from the point on an object converge. Although the focus is conceptually a point, physically the focus has a spatial extent, called the blur circle. This non-ideal focusing may be caused by aberrations of the imaging optics. An image is in focus if light from object points is converged almost as much as possible in the image and out of focus if light is not well converged. The border between these is sometimes defined using a “circle of confusion” criterion.

Similarly, in the business arena, aberrations (politics, selfishness, poor communication, secrets, etc.) cause employees to experience a circle of confusion – an area of uncertainty, indistinctness and anxiety. There seems to be a lack of convergence between the company values and the behaviour of leaders, the same resulting in blurred vision, insecure employees and a disabled environment. The lacks of light and transparency on the issues that really matter have caused confusion in the minds and hearts of all working in the business.

To achieve the circle of least confusion and to realise objects appearing acceptably sharp in an image, a large depth of field is necessary – only leaders can create this. Eliminating confusion requires leaders restoring focus on the following objects:

  1. Focus on a clear and well-designed strategy, with accompanying strategy map – a visual presentation of where we are going, whom we serve and how we are going to get there. This “big picture” is a critical element in vision, hope and bringing clarity to the way ahead.
  2. Focus on company values – the expected behaviour sets that guide the way we do our work and how we relate to all stakeholders. Leadership standards need to be established to enable managers to assess their own respective leading practices.
  3. Focus on inclusive and engaging communication – a communication that conveys that people and quality matter and that which expresses dignity to all. Ideas are valued, collaboration is praised and teamwork is emphasised.
  4. Focus on strategy execution – expectations around performance issues are well-communicated and performance evaluations are conducted regularly. Assistance is provided in the form of upgrading skills and required ongoing training.
  5. Focus on and celebration of results – the achievement of great results should evoke celebration and spur all on to achieve more.

The ways that leaders behave and communicate should bring everything that is important about the business into focus for all employees – there should be no confusion. Blurred vision translates into focus being put on the wrong objects within the business, with the resultant degradation of results. Sharp vision, on the other hand, focuses everyone on key results areas and enables energy to be applied appropriately.

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