As leaders climb up the ladder and take on higher responsibilities and start to deal with complex assignments, what is more critical: ability to zoom-out or zoom-in?
Zooming out is about looking at something from 30,000 feet. When we look at things from such height, we
- see the whole picture
- easily see the connection between different elements
- visualize the opportunities
- anticipate the threats, potential challenges
On the contrary, when we Zoom-in and look at something from 30 feet, we see
- the finer nuances and details
- problems and challenges
- aspects that are working well
- on-ground relationships as they play out
So, what is more important for someone to be effective as a leader?
Well, the answer is both!
The big picture thinking that comes from zooming out helps
- set strategic direction
- form alliances / partnerships
- proactively manage threats
- shape the journey towards opportunities
While zooming in may seem counter-intuitive, it’s equally important. It enables
- staying in touch with customers, employees on the front line
- understanding on-ground actions: what’s working or not working
- manage issues, before they snowball
- focus on execution in a timely and effective manner
While both are important, like everything else in life, it is critical to balance and do the right thing at the right time
Also, based on natural inclination, past training and exposure, leaders may naturally lean towards Zooming-in or Zooming-out. It’s important to develop the self-awareness and consciously focus on getting things done, moving ahead even as he / she continues to look at the long road ahead…..
What makes the difference is the ability to maintain the fine balance – zooming in at the right time and zooming out with equal alacrity.