Several years ago, I worked with a #leader who was passionate about attention to details. Go to him with a document that has few typos, or inconsistent font, bullets, words, data and he will push the document back to you with a smile and say, “I am sorry, I can’t go through this note. It’s my problem you see… not yours at all. I can’t read a document with errors like this. Please correct it and come back.”
Irrespective of how much I tried, I ended up having just one typo or inconsistency. And he would catch it in 5 seconds. While I was frustrated at that time, I am grateful to him, for instilling detail orientation in me.
Over years, I have realized that attention to details is a characteristic of successful leaders. I have seen it in all the leaders that I worked with. As Adam Bryant says, “if you are ambitious to move up in your career, it’s a smart move to sweat the details.”
Reflecting on my journey of cultivating detail orientation, here are few things one can do to develop the ability:
- First and foremost, believe that detail orientation is important. This is the biggest hurdle, which once crossed makes rest of the journey easier. If we find it hard, all we need to do is imagine our doctor / surgeon or the pilot of our flight making one tiny error, and the potential consequences. It resolved any doubts I had instantly!
- Adopt first time right approach. If you find an error, correct it immediately; refrain from thinking, “this is just a draft, I will correct it later.” It most often doesn’t get corrected.
- Focus, focus, focus… avoid multi-tasking.
- Identify times of the day when you are high on energy and mental alertness. Allocate important thinking / writing work to those times of the day.
- Once completed, take a short break and review the work
As Willie Sutton says, “Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration.”