executive presence

Staying Focused on the Big Picture

As managers and leaders, you may have a wide range of responsibilities from giving your team the right guidance and direction to getting down into details to problem-solve. However, the higher you climb up the corporate ladder, the more you need to consistently focus on the big picture in everything you do. This can make a huge difference in whether others perceive you as a leader, and in your ability to get results.

When I work with my clients, one of the first things I ask them to do is identify the three areas where they can make the biggest impact on the business. Then I take it one step further and have them identify what makes each of those three things so important, to the business and to them personally (e.g., to their goals and development as leaders).

This approach is a core part of my Leadership System because it helps people focus on the big picture and recognize the “so what.” In other words, identifying where you need to redirect your focus is an important first step—but understanding the impact of that shift will cement your commitment to doing it and help you articulate it to others.

By asking the two questions above early on, I find that most people quickly zero in on the 20 percent of their activity and effort that matters the most. It gives them a new lens to look at things through. So, they begin to challenge how they spend their time and start to recognize what they should stop doing altogether. This process of rationalizing their time and focus opens up new possibilities, including delegating to and developing others who are eager to show what they can do.

However, to really be viewed as a strong leader by others you have to go beyond redirecting how you spend your time. You also have to help others “see” that you are doing so. In other words, make your big picture more visible to other leaders, your boss, peers, and staff through what you communicate.

Sometimes we can be so clear in our own heads about what we are doing that we can forget that our underlying intent and actions may not be well understood by others. So, look for opportunities, big and small, to communicate your big picture and priorities to others—the “what” and the “why.” And you don’t have to create new forums to do so; you can leverage existing meetings and opportunities. Whatever approach you choose, be sure to tailor it to your audience.

Finally, remember that your communications and actions must be in sync because your actions will speak louder than your words. For example, if people see you consistently focused on the details in meetings and in their interactions with you, it will be much more difficult for them to view you as someone who sees and understands the big picture.

So, I’ll end with a Call to Action. Please take the time to answer the following questions for yourself today:

  • What are the three things you need to focus on in the next six months, to have the biggest impact on the business and on your own development?

  • What makes each of these things so important to you and the business (i.e., what will the impact be)?

  • What one step will you take to communicate your big picture to others

These questions will help you focus on the big picture—on what really drives value and results. So, keep them handy and review them every six months.