Effective Leaders see the Bigger Picture

It’s easy for leaders, especially ones early in their careers as leaders, to struggle to see the bigger picture (instead being focused on managing/coordinating/triaging the day-to-day operations of a team/department/division (losing the forest for the trees).

When that happens, inexperienced leaders may respond to big capacity/schedule/velocity issues by just trying harder without stepping back to evaluate if their targets are attainable based on current resources and approach.

I’ve seen leaders drive their team harder and harder, working nights and weekends without realizing that even with that surge in effort, they’ll still miss the deadline/target by a huge margin without going to senior leaders and asking for help.

When you realize you’re in over your head, go to your senior leaders, mentors, or peers ASAP — it’s only going to get worse.  Maybe you need additional people (even if that hurts profitability in order to meet a commitment) or maybe it’s a technology investment to allow efficiency gains through automation.  Or maybe you need to consider changing the target/finish line.  Or something else.  But don’t assume you’ll figure it out later.

It’s important as a leader to make time (especially when it doesn’t feel like you have any time for planning/reflection/zooming out) to step out of the tactical view and assess how you’re doing against the bigger picture goals/priorities/milestones (see Drucker’s What Makes an Effective Executive).

And when the issue isn’t the team’s overall velocity, but your personal, individual busy-ness, it’s critical to realize that unless this is some unique, temporary burst of work, things likely won’t get any better by you just trying harder — you probably need to invest the time you feel you don’t have, to ask for more help, or better publish/share the knowledge about the work/procedures you do, or invest in training the people you have.

Don’t think you can dig out of a hole of crazy-chaotic-busy-ness, by doing the same thing you’ve been doing only faster — it probably won’t work (and you’re only making it harder for yourself to dig out later)

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