“Jered… What’s more important… Focusing on the big picture or worrying about the little details?” One debate that constantly circles the leadership world is whether leaders should spend their time focusing on the big picture or worrying about the little details.
On one side of the debate, there are leadership experts that say you should almost always focus on thinking about the big picture, and all the little details will fall into place.
Other leadership experts say that you must concentrate on all of the little details, and the more attention to detail you make at the lowest level, the better the quality of the big picture will be. After reading into some of this “expert” talk, I’ve come to realize that both sides are on to something.
In my analysis, an effective leader first determines what they want the big picture to look like, and then focuses on influencing the little details to create the ideal big picture.
For example, I recently read an article discussing the secrets to Leonardo da Vinci’s success as a painter. Researchers used a special x-ray machine that allowed them to examine various paintings by da Vinci.
The researchers discovered that:
- Leonardo da Vinci used brush strokes that were thinner than human hair to create the shadowy dream-like effect of the famous Mona Lisa.
- There may be up to 30 layers of paint to create the desired effect in many of da Vinci’s paintings.
- Leonardo da Vinci used different types of metals and metal compounds in his paint mixes to create different effects.
Beyond the fact that da Vinci was a highly disciplined and skilled painter, one of the secrets to his success was that he was able to create an artistic vision in his head, and then carefully place all of the details to create the best work of art that he could. First, da Vinci created the big picture in his mind. Then, he focused on making the little details the best they could be to create the big picture he envisioned. Ultimately, the quality of the big picture relies on the supporting details, and the effectiveness of the supporting details relies on their usefulness to the big picture.
In other words, a leader should envision the ideal big picture and the little details that will make the big picture, and then the leader should focus on completing the little details to create the ideal big picture.
So perhaps the debate isn’t so much about wither the big picture is more important than the little details, or vice versa. Perhaps the answer is that to be an effective leader, one has to learn how to hold a solid vision of the ideal future and concentrate on implementing the details to make that vision a reality.
Leadership Vision Podcast
So, before we move on into talking about “Leadership Purpose,” I thought I’d create a quick podcast for you to demonstrate how to use leadership vision for your success. I
n this podcast I run down for you how my friend Geoff and I used hindsight, insight, and foresight to create a student government on our college campus. To download, right click the link below and click “Save Target As” to save it to your desktop.