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Leadership Effectiveness: focus and noise reduction

What is the most scarce and decisive resource for any leader? Many will say “time”. Based on recent researches, I would answer “focus” or “attention”. Daniel Goleman states that mastering our focus, in a world in which we are bombarded by stimuli and distractions , is the key to professional success and achievement.

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What is the most scarce and decisive resource for any leader? Many will say “time”. Based on recent researches, I would answer “focus” or “attention”. Daniel Goleman (yes, the promoter of the emotional intelligence model) states that mastering our focus, in a world in which we are bombarded by stimuli and distractions (sensory or emotional), is the key to professional success and achievement.

Attention is, indeed, a limited and selective capacity. It’s what allows us to concentrate on our tasks. The web, the social and mass media content or apps notifications are constant sources of requests to our brains. In contexts of crisis and pressure (ex. the pandemic), it drives us to be permanently wired, trying not to lose anything (supposedly) important. All this disperses our attention and makes us feel lost with an avalanche of information that, paradoxically, mitigates real knowledge. At the same time,  multitasking (a hot topic today) originates shorter periods of concentration, which prevents us from dedicating time the our high-priority goals. Leaders should also be aware of the impact of “noise” in analysis and decision making processes. Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002) underlines the negative influence of individual factors such as the current mood, biases and preconceptions or unconscious thoughts – that ultimately generate variability in leadership judgments.

These two phenomena, lack of focus and noise, are independent. But both intersect and mutually reinforce each other, affecting leadership performance – on empathy, on Managing relationships in the workplace, on internal communications and, essentially, in good decision-making.

To mitigate noise, Kahneman proposes noise “audits” and complement human judgment with some rule or algorithm (which brings useful ingredients to the process). Based on the knowledge recently generated in the neurosciences, Goleman underlines the importance of reinforcing three types of focus: internal, for our self-awareness (our thoughts, emotions and feelings); at a second level, through empathy (focusing on the other part); and an external one, to understand systems/contexts in which organizations operate (their variables and driving forces). And, I would add, leaders should always be aware of the variables they can influence and those they can’t – thus focusing their time, emotional energy and talent on what they can really impact . Practices such as coaching, mentoring and meditation can certainly help on these challenges.

Carlos Sezões

Managing Partner of Darefy – Leadership & Change Builders

Luís Gonçalves

Marketing & Tech Manager

Luís has a professional certification in IT (Computer Systems Management and Programming). He´s now finishing his degree in Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. He has experience in marketing and communication projects, both in Portugal and in the UK. Entrepreneur and event manager, Luís is organizer and co-founder of the Famalicão Extreme Gaming, one of the biggest e-sports, video games and technology events in Portugal.

Nuno Gonçalves

Associate Consultant

Nuno has a degree in Psychology and a Business Management Executive Master; he’s an organizational consultant and senior trainer, with over 20 years of experience in the areas of Negotiation, Team Management, Leadership; Coaching, Stress Management; Emotional Intelligence, Feedback and Customer Management. He has a HeartMath Coach – Stress & Resilience Management certification and additional training in Theater, Psychodrama and NLP (Neuro – Linguistic Programming).
Nuno has been invited professor in modules like Innovation, Creativity and Leadership and Team Management.

Susana Almeida

Associate Consultant

Susana has a degree in Psychology (specialization in Social Psychology and Organizations) and Master in Human Resources Management (EADA). She has extensive experience of more than 15 years in executive search and middle-management recruitment, in leading multinational consulting firms, in Portugal and Spain. Susana presents also an insightful experience in several talent management, leadership assessment and culture transformation consulting projects. Versatile leader, she´s also an entrepreneur, language teacher and project manager in the education and life-long learning areas.

Cristiana Paiva

Client Partner

Cristiana has more than 15 years working in organizational, leadership and HR challenges, in different companies and geographies. She graduated in Sociology from the University of Porto and complemented her training with an MBA in Management, specializing in the areas of Marketing and Human Resources. She was a consultant for Dynargie Portugal and Responsible for the Recruitment, Selection and Talent Capture of the Ibersol Group. At JASON Associates Portugal she started as Business Development, then took on the challenge of internationalization in 2013 as Business Manager for the Angola operation and, later, she took on the role of HEAD Africa. She is the “mother” of the TOP Leaders Luanda brand, an event directed to TOP Management. In 2017, she completed the brand’s spin off for Angola, having led the process of making international operations autonomous. She is a Managing Partner at JASON Angola, a Partner at JASON Brasil and a Business Development Manager at JASON Tribe.

Carlos Sezões

Managing Partner

Carlos has more than 20 years helping companies to optimize their organizations, leadership and talent.  He began his career at Banco BPI (banking) in 1999, focused on small and mid-sized companies. In 2001, he went to work to the e-recruitment portal ExpressoEmprego.pt (Impresa Group), were he developed employer branding strategies. Later, in 2004, he changed to management consulting sector, where he worked for SIGH International and BI4All – essentially, in corporate governance and performance management projects. Carlos founded LearnView in 2007, a company focused on consultancy (change management) and competencies development (strategy, leadership, behavioural). Carlos was Partner at Stanton Chase Portugal for more than 10 years (2010 to 2021) – engaged in  Executive Search, Talent Management and Executive Coaching.

He holds a degree in Business Management and has upgraded his studies with a Marketing post-graduation course, an Executive MBA, and finished his Masters degree in Human Resources Management in 2018. He’s also concluded a Digital Transformation program (MIT). Since 2012, he has an international certification in Executive Coaching. Carlos was honored in 2013 as HR Consultant of the Year in Portugal (RH Magazine) and has also participated as a speaker in more than 50 conferences and seminars. Moreover, he has been serving as visiting professor in some universities and business schools (Universidade do Minho, UAL, ISG). Parallel to his professional life, he’s the founder and coordinator of Portugal Agora (www.portugalagora.com) – citizenship and think-tank platform.