An eye on the big picture, an eye on the small


One of the most challenging things about leadership is navigating multiple horizons simultaneously. This is true regardless of your level in an organization.

What do I mean?

Well, effective leadership requires the ability to zoom in and keep an eye on executing tasks daily and also to zoom out and make sure that the tasks you’re doing are moving you toward fulfilling the company goals.

For those of us who are not yet in the highest leadership positions–the C-Suites–keeping an eye on the big picture without executing leads to failure by way of inaction.

Keeping an eye on executing and ignoring the big picture leads to failure by drifting off course.

Leaders have to look carefully at particular projects that are under their control—even looking at smaller parts of a project, like an individual expenditure or decision point.

Zooming in.

At the same time, leaders have to be able to see their projects in the larger context of the goals, objectives, and outcomes of their business unit or company.

Zooming out.

This is true whether we’re talking about business or writing. If a sentence fails to support its paragraph it should be excised, as should a stray chapter.

It even works if we consider our own lives.

Each of us should take regular time away for zooming out and keeping the big picture in mind. Failing to do this leads to the sort of regrets that haunt parents when they reach the empty nest, and spouses when they look across the dinner table and don’t recognize the face they see.

Perhaps this is something that sounds appealing, but beyond your grasp.

It’s not.

Most people, most of the time, tend toward busyness—executing the things on that to do list. They seldom to stop and consider whether the things they’re doing are the right things.

For most people, the challenge is zooming out.

You can take regular time away for zooming out.


Start small.

Find pockets of time in your week when you can shut down the email, put the phone on do not disturb, and close your office door.

Take out a piece of paper, close your eyes, and step out of your day or your department or even your life. Measure what you see against what you wished was the case or, better, the goals you set earlier.

If they’re not aligned, ask yourself what needs to change?

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