Managing Distractions as a Leader, Coach, Teacher, or ParentSep 06, 2021
If your teammates or co-workers are distracted as individuals, rest assured that in today’s decentralized Covid work environment, your team’s ability to focus is more important and challenging and their distracted nature is impacting your team’s or organization’s bottom line.
Fortunately, as a coach or leader, you can apply my four-step process at team level to help improve your teammates and your team’s ability to focus.
I recommend you begin by observing your team in action noting their distracted nature and its sources. Are manual distractions, environmental distractions, or a combination the primary culprits? Cognitive distractions are much more difficult to assess. You may never know the root or impact of cognitive distractions, but remember they are often linked to other more obvious sources.
Discuss your observations and concerns with your teammates and include them as you develop an assessment of the impacts. Once your assessment is complete, you can apply the same four-step model.
Step 1: Self-Accountability and Alignment
As a leader, a meaningful organizational “compass” consisting of a clearly defined purpose / mission statement, values, and priorities is a must. This same compass serves as your team’s standard and creates a self-accountability mechanism useful in helping teammates focus on important projects and tasks.
Step 2: Purposeful and Intentional Living (Goals)
As an extension of your team’s compass, organizational goals add specificity and intention to your purpose and priorities, and serve as a reminder of what is at risk if a distracted state is accepted and unchecked.
Step 3: Distraction Avoidance Strategies
Your observations will help you develop strategies to eliminate or mitigate manual and environmentally oriented sources (see original article for an explanation) that will ultimately reduce cognitive distractions. Don’t allow your need to balance a productive workplace with teammate or co-worker satisfaction prevent you from implementing simple and effective mitigation measures.
Step 4: Mindfulness
Finally, creating a mindful organization can be challenging, the results significant, but the costs devastating if ignored. Imagine your teammates being attentive during half of a sales call; or sporadically focusing while preparing a contract bid; or being interrupted repeatedly during a turnover inspection. None of these scenarios end well or represent your team in a manner that make you proud.
Creating a mindful organization begins with leaders openly discussing the need and how to create focus and presence. Your teammates can’t read your mind. If distraction is sapping the life out of your team and robbing you of untapped potential, consider the effects on all stakeholders and address the problem.
Mindfulness and meditation are awkward topics to address due to their deep personal nature.
Don’t allow this uncomfortable topic to prevent you from addressing an important organizational issue. There are practical and beneficial techniques that you as a coach or leader can use at team level.
Once you decide to confront the issue, don’t immediately jump to meditation as the solution.
This approach may create immediate resistance from skeptics within your team. Instead, focus on the need to improve your team’s sense of focus, engagement, and presence. The goal is to be more mindful, not great meditators. This is a subtle but important difference that may help you convince skeptics within your team.
If you currently meditate, openly talk to your team about your experience and the results, and recommend they give it a try. If you don’t meditate, take time to learn about it and give it a legitimate attempt. Consider offering volunteer classes to inform your teammates and create some internal buy-in.
Finally, if you as a coach or leader don’t support meditation, don’t discourage your team from trying. Fixed mindsets are contagious, and so are growth mindsets. One way or another, your team will likely follow your lead.
Remember, the benefits of meditation are well documented and recognized. There is no downside to meditation.
- To learn more, download a sample of my Peak Performance Begins in the Mind and corresponding workbook.
- Consider taking my “Creating Laser Like Focus for Optimal Performance!” Course.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.