Business Leaders, Caught in the Small Picture
It’s easy for business leaders to get caught up in the details of everyday business, assuming the role of micromanager, not leader. And because leaders may not be focusing on big-picture questions surrounding the vision, mission, and value of their business and brand, many leaders end up feeling stuck—trying to figure out how to implement strategies without any real framework to guide these decisions. As a result, employees and middle managers can often suffer.
Too often, big-picture questions are dismissed as important, but not necessarily urgent for business. But gaining a clear vision is the most important thing you can do to propel your business forward—with everyone aligned behind and empowered to make that vision a reality.
The Big Picture Demands Time
In the end, many business leaders ignore the big picture simply because they feel they lack the time. Repositioning, realigning, and rebranding all take time and resources. And building a big-picture mentality requires really looking forward.
Because many leaders are taking on too many priorities (many of which exist on a micro-level), it’s difficult for them to feel as though they have the resources needed to address big questions. And instead, they focus on aspects of the business that might, when it comes down to it, not really be their job.
In fact, business leaders may be so connected to the brand—a brand they’ve built, owned, and currently hold a lot of stake in—that they struggle to let go of their reigns and empower others to create change.
Leadership needs to focus on seeing the big picture before anything else.
These are the key macro questions that we believe need to be answered:
- Why does your organization exist (what’s your purpose, vision)?
- What does it deliver (what value do you offer)?
- Why does what you deliver hold meaning in people’s minds and hearts?
- And how will it bring its promise to life (how do you behave)?
In order for leaders to find the answers that will empower others to do their job, they need to:
1. Create Guardrails
Defining what you are not—what you do not strive for, what you do not deliver, and how you do not behave—helps gain clarity around who you are and why you matter. Creating guardrails forces leaders to think through consequences of positioning and the various trade-offs of a strategic decision. This kind of clarity can inform your brand and business moving forward—informing how you speak, how you look, where you’re headed, and how to make each decision down the road.
2. Think Strategically, Not Tactically
Big-picture thinking means strategic thinking. Brand strategy and business strategy are all about seeing the whole picture. Considering things in a silo never creates an impactful strategy. And often, leaders get hung up on tactical details that stall powerful, strategic thinking. Although it’s important to occasionally check validity by considering your thinking on a micro level—how actually would you implement this?—it’s important to think big.
3. Listen to Everyone
Often, seeing the whole picture requires widening your perspective. It’s not just about what the C-suite has to say. Everyone should have a voice. Listening is key here. Alignment demands good listening. Give everyone within your company the chance to have a voice and even consider involving an outside perspective that might help put it all into context, identify gaps, and change the conversation.
4. Focus on the Future
In the end, every leader is responsible for driving their business into the future. And there must always be something worth moving toward. A clear vision increases employee productivity and commitment. And being clear about what that future could hold has the power to fuel innovation and empower the people most important to making your vision a reality. It’s easy to feel caught up in the present, stuck in today, and unable to think toward tomorrow. But being a leader is all about the ability to look forward. Then you go back and rally the troops who will make that possible.
If you want your business to succeed, you must focus on the big picture. And a clear and acted-upon purpose that comes to life through consistent behavior is a requirement for brands today. So, take the time and dedicate the resources to taking a macro approach to your brand and business. Be a leader, not a micromanager. Think big and reap the benefits.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.