Do you see the big picture?

big pictureAs you progress through your career you should begin to gain a broader and deeper perspective on the business attributes. It is important for you to look for, and understand, this broader and deeper perspective. This will help you have the right context for making and understanding decisions. Further, it will enable you to demonstrate leadership maturity. This will benefit you in your career growth.

I don’t see it!

Sometimes we observe leadership behaviour or decisions and they just don’t make sense. There are a few sets of behaviour and decision drivers;

  • External information or forces at play – the stuff that is outside the company. This could be a long term set up for merger or acquisition activity. It could be a planned response to competitive activity. It could also be bringing outside talent to influence the internal dynamics.
  • Cross division or departmental information or forces at play – this is typically managing resource allocations, moving staff for development purposes, setting for an internal structural change, responding to market forces by positioning for offense or defense.
  • Staff resource development – this is where you want to be as this action focused on grooming future leaders. Sometimes decisions regarding promotions that you observe, only make sense when viewed from this context.

Mind games

Once I learned the importance of seeing the big picture I started to play mind games. I would observe decisions made by executives and try to think through what would be good root causes to support those decisions. This mental exercise did two things for me; I developed my root cause thinking capability and I began to see a much broader and deeper picture of the business. These learnings became key attributes in my business success. Plus, they enabled me to earn quicker promotions. Further, over time, I became a capable contributor in the boardroom. I was on the same page as the executives which made me valuable.

Strategic thinking

The root of strategic thinking is to first see a broad and deep corporate picture. The second part is understanding what you are seeing. I will often go to a colleague or leader and ask questions like “What does this perspective of the business mean?” Or “I see this executive decision and I don’t understand why they did that, can you explain it to me?” This questioning mind lead me to be in conversations that were often above my pay grade. I became known for having an inquiring mind which is not a bad thing.

The alternative

Those who don’t see the big picture typically fall into a few categories;

  1. People who are content with their role and understand the value of their daily contribution.
  2. People who are discontented but aren’t up for the effort to change. This group is typically the first to complain and sow discontent.
  3. Those who just need to be cookie crumbed into seeing the broader and deeper view.

As leaders, or potential leaders, we need to understand the different behaviours related to the larger view.

Getting on with it

I would encourage you to develop the habit of asking questions that will help reveal the bigger picture. Questions that will help you understand the attributes of the bigger picture. Questions that reveal motivations for decisions. This will all help you create an informed view.

What questions do you have? What picture do you see?

David Reimer


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