Why the Big Picture is Such a Big Deal for Leaders

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Updated from November 24, 2014 post

One of the benefits of grabbing a few days of family time here in Australia in the midst of my month-long Vision tour, is the opportunity to step back and reclaim the “big picture”.

In the daily grind of leadership it’s easy to lose focus of what really matters most. For leaders, taking the time to clarify the big picture is a vital discipline.

In fact, as I noted in this earlier post, this discipline can be a leadership game-changer.

The importance of the Big Picture was vividly demonstrated a few years ago in the locker room of a pro hockey team. It was late in the season and the team was battling for a playoff spot. At the same time, several players were closing in on individual point totals that would qualify them for performance bonuses.

After practice the coach gathered the team around and said to one of the players, “How many points do you need for your bonus?”

“7, coach,” came the reply.

The coach looked at another player. “And you?”

“9 points, coach,” he responded immediately.

The coach nodded and looked at the next player. “You?”

“5 points coach.”

The coach nodded and silently walked around the room. After a few minutes he looked back at the team and said quietly, “We are fighting for our playoff lives. Who can tell me how many wins we need to secure a playoff spot?”

Each player slowly cast his eyes to the floor. No one would look up. No one knew the answer.

“…and that, team,” the coach quietly concluded, “Is our biggest problem.”

There’s nothing wrong with individual performance goals. In fact, they’re very important. But the job of the leader is to help each person understand how their individual accomplishments fit in to the bigger picture.

Can you tell if the big picture is fading into the background?

Absolutely. Here are three of the biggest indicators.

1.  Your culture replaces collaboration with competition

Not all competition is unhealthy in your culture. But when it trumps collaboration and team work, it’s a sure sign the big picture needs to be reinforced.

2.  The team has little interest in celebrating group accomplishments

Watch the energy when the accomplishment of a team goal is being celebrated. Low energy tells you the big picture isn’t being embraced.

3.  Water cooler talk centers on individual accomplishments.

Again, individual accomplishments should be recognized. But if that’s all people are talking about you need to polish up the big picture for your team.

So keep the big picture front and center for your team.

That might be the most important picture you’ll ever paint.

How do you keep the big picture front and center?

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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