As you strive to be a charismatic leader and improve your stewardship in your company, studying the traits of well-known leaders is insightful.

An important trait of the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, was the focus he provided his employees.

Jobs led the company to revolutionary technologies including the iPod and the iPhone. Kara Swisher, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, said “There is not a single executive or creator in technology industry more important than Steve Jobs.”

In a Harvard Business Review article by Walter Isaacson ( entitled The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs, Isaacson writes of the focus Jobs demanded when he returned to the struggling company in 1997. Isaacson recounts that after a few weeks of product review sessions, Jobs, in bare feet, went to the whiteboard and drew a two-by-two grid. Atop the columns he wrote: “Consumer” and “Pro.” He then labeled two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” He told the team members that their job was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products were to be cancelled. The entire company became focused.

Contrast this to comments in the Friday, May 9th edition of the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled Alibaba IPO Pressures Yahoo Chief. Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. is quoted: “For a turnaround to get going, Yahoo needs a new revenue growth engine…. Yet instead of focusing on one emerging area, Ms. Mayer has spread the company’s resources across a dizzying array of businesses.” Those businesses include e-commerce analytic tools, an image-recognition company and desires to fashion Yahoo into a next generation media company.

I relate to Apple when Steve Jobs returned and I relate to Marissa Mayer trying desperately to get something to stick. I often see so many options that look desirable. I pursue that option until I hit a roadblock and then I put it on the back burner and work on another low hanging fruit option.

As a leader have you focused your team on the top priorities at this given moment in time? If so, I recommend you try Steve Jobs’ strategy of a 2 x 2 grid. The Focus Grid will bring you maximum clarity.

Individual Focus

As an individual, do you personally lack focus? If so, draw a 2 x 2 grid. Label the columns Hard Work and Happiness. Label the rows Professionally and Personally. Now put one item in each quadrant. Contemplate and as you choose an item, ensure it is a task, goal or objective that has tremendous value to you. Now plan the next six months around the 4 items you have chosen as significant to move your life forward.

2 x 2 personal focus grid download

Download this grid by clicking here.

Time will tell if Marissa Mayer’s strategy works. History is on the side of Steve Jobs: the 2 x 2 Focus Grid works.

Reevaluate your grid six months from now and see if the 2 x 2 Focus Grid has worked for you.

Do you think the Focus Grid will work? Add your comments below.

Focused Retreats and Coaching

Karla is an Atlanta-based Keynote Speaker. She can help you focus your team by consulting with you and providing activities and direction to your next retreat or quarterly meeting. Call 770-923-0883 to check the availability of her dates. She is also available for personal coaching.

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