Energy & Focus – Looking Back (Part #5) – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: November 3, 2018

As a reminder, the intent of the next several Weekend Reflections for Leaders is to share some learnings from my journey of leaving a successful career with a great multi-national, life science company to learn and grow in the high growth (and high risk) mid-stage and early-stage life science marketplace. Over the last decade, I led a few companies to successful exits and also experienced a few very painful failures.

Here is a summary of the last few weeks of Looking Back:

Part #1: Guiding Principles.

Part #2: Risk Taking and the Value of Failure:

Part #3: Teamwork:   

Part #4: Inspiration:

There is a great amount of work that needs to be done to remain competitive in the marketplace for both large and small companies. Another key learning from this leadership journey from a large, multi-national company to early stage entrepreneurial ventures has been around Energy and Focus.

What decisions did I make today? What did I accomplish today?

What were the most difficult problems I faced today and how did I solve them?

What did I get paid to do today?

The answers to those questions can be a helpful reality check for today’s leaders on how they direct energy and focus.

The practical reality in leading a business is that with size comes complexity. In many ways, there is no avoidance of that reality. However, the amount of internal grind and unproductive, non-value adding work that goes on in large companies is mind boggling once you unplug and experience something different.

For many large companies, the number of routine meetings and the amount of internal process that could instead be solved with just a few bullet points of action steps and clearly assigned accountability via a short email or a quick hallway conversation is what results in a massive energy drain and lack of focus on the important issues to grow a business.

Large corporations create a significant amount of checks and balances with layers of leadership oversight. In heavily regulated industries like healthcare, there are some real risks that need to managed and key decisions must go through different lenses (commercial, regulatory, legal, financial, human resources, etc.) to manage very real marketplace risk. However, the amount of energy that is drained through lack of focus on the real issues, an inefficient process with no clearly defined guardrails, and lack of empowered leaders results in highly talented, highly energetic people becoming frustrated.

For many commercial teams in large companies, the internal review process for routine events or projects creates a massive amount of wasted motion and energy depletion of its most talented teams.  The classic example of slide deck reviews and edits that may cycle up and down the leadership structure consumes a huge amount of energy and time which can delay projects and frustrate highly competent teams. 

The most striking difference in an entrepreneurial minded organization is the massive shift in energy and focus towards solving real customer problems and creating new innovative products based on those learnings from customers. There is no bandwidth for internal grind in small companies; Work needs to get done today, customer issues need to be solved today, and the development of new products needs to be accelerated to attract new customers and investors.

The internal wasted motion in many large commercial teams in big companies depletes the energy and appetite of well-intended, talented teams to innovate and create real opportunities for the growth of products and solutions.

The cycle of meetings to meetings without clear action steps, decisions made, and individuals held accountable to move the project forward can be an all-consuming effort for large companies.  The meeting after the meeting in the hallway to express issues that should have been voiced in the actual meeting creates a cultural dynamic that drains energy and creates a lack of focused effort on getting to the heart of issues quickly and effectively.

Today’s senior executives and top talent have an amazing amount of energy, insight, and potential to innovate.  The challenge for leaders in large organizations is how to minimize the energy drain on wasteful internal grind by establishing clear principles for decision making and risk taking that enable teams to move quickly with the appropriate guardrails to focus their energy on supporting customers and driving innovation that sustains growth.

Enabling individuals and teams to unleash energy and focus on the important things in running a business will help even large complex companies continue to thrive and grow.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at
  2. Contact me. Email: (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

Business Partnership concept. business man shaking hands during a meeting in the office, success, dealing, greeting.

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