How Leaders Can Master the Details & Keep the Big Picture

Like Don't move Unlike

Updated from from May 30, 2014 post

“I’m not into the details- I’m a big picture thinker.” 

If you’ve ever said that in your leadership, here’s what you need to know; At the end of the day, that “big picture” you’re looking at is one made up of hundreds or thousands of details. And as a leader you need to know what they are.

Ultimately, it’s the details that provide you with the information you need to make big picture decisions.

You can fake it for a while, but in the end your lack of attention to the details will make it impossible to provide effective leadership.

So what can you do about it, if you’re not a details person?

Well, speaking as someone for whom detail work doesn’t come naturally, here are three vital ways I’ve learned to master the details that enable you to provide big picture leadership.

1.  Develop a disciplined regimen

Some people gravitate quite naturally to detailed analysis work.

For the rest of us it’s necessary to carve out time in our week to focus on the numbers.

For me, that can mean a daily 30 minute slot on my calendar to do nothing but crunching numbers. Others like to set aside a day a week.

Whatever system you choose, start by creating immovable time in your week.

2.  Surround yourself with experts

Early on in my leadership I learned to hand-select key advisors whom I could trust to develop my own skills in detail analysis work, and who could also help me burrow deep into the organization’s vital metrics.

One question I ask each time I meet with these advisors: “What do I need to know?”

That question can open a well-spring of vital leadership data.

3.  Let your team know you’re paying attention to the details

When your team is aware that you know the details it positions you for big picture leadership.

I recently saw a senior executive of a large organization notify his staff that certain staff expenditures were being submitted which could not be justified.

This statement not only corrected a problem, more importantly it let the entire staff know that their president was paying attention to the finest details.

So by all means, keep the big picture in mind. But pay close attention to the fine details too.

Because the big picture is made up of thousands of details.

How do you stay on top of the details in your leadership?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *