I meet many business leaders who spend the majority of time working “in” their business and don’t spend enough time zooming out to work “on” their business. This is typically thought of as an “entrepreneur’s” problem, but the value of zooming out is indisputable for leaders at all levels in all kinds of organizations. This capability creates better perspectives, and allows you to see the nuance and detail when you need to, but still track the big picture journey your company or organization is taking.
So, if it’s so valuable, why don’t we do it more regularly? For many, zooming out feels like a luxury they can’t afford or is something that comes at the end of their very long days. Regardless of where you work, the days are long and zooming out can be daunting. (I know I’m guilty!)
One way to address this is to think about where you as a leader are spending your time. Is it on the highest value activities? If not, what can you do to move these things to someone else on the team, freeing up time for you to take action. Something as simple as blocking a ½ day every other week can give you the time you need to consider the bigger picture!
Another thing to consider is how you’ve built your team. If you’ve built your team aligned to your longer-term strategy, it’s easier to stay on course. When I say this, I mean do you have the right people with the right skills and personality in the right roles at the right times. When you do, the team will be naturally driven and motivated to operate and act in the ways that will drive success. Too often, the organizational or company strategy changes, but we don’t think about the impact on our talent. If the same people are now being asked to do things very differently, you can find that they can become de-motivated, de-energized and ultimately performance suffers. In fact, according to PMI, organizations who align their talent strategy with their business strategy have a significant competitive advantage. 69% of high performing organizations have an aligned talent strategy compared to only 31% in low performing organizations.
So, if you are thinking, yikes! No wonder why I never zoom out… don’t worry. I’m not saying you have to make significant talent changes every time you adjust your strategy. However, I do encourage thinking through the key roles that will enable the success of your current strategies. Once you have those roles identified, think about the key skills, capabilities and personality traits those individuals need. Are they great at relationships? Do they need to drive significant innovation? Do they need to be highly agile and able to work in complex situations? Are they proactive & visionary or extremely responsive to the strategic landscape? Are they driving significant change & disrupting markets or striving for operational excellence & cost efficiencies? The answers to these questions matter, it tells you about the personality of the person you need in the role. Armed with this information, you can now get the right individuals in the right roles. Even if you don’t change the people on your team, you are now able to have clear conversations about how their work is evolving.
If all of this sounds like a LOT of extra work, consider adding some systems that help you manage this kind of process. With a little bit of investment, you can create a foundational system for defining what you need in key roles and aligning your talent to those needs. And in doing so, increase your efficacy in placing the right talent in the right roles by 9-10x.