In the Navy, leadership is taught on a daily basis. We constantly exchange ideas and concepts. One constant phrase I keep hearing is “the big picture”. The members of my upper chain of command are always stating we need to stay focused on the big picture. There is a concept we will miss seeing the forest because we were too focused on the trees. I agree with this to an extent. The big picture is important to keep in sight. However, it is equally important to focus on the individual brush strokes. Find out where it came from and take notice on how it was applied. See how well it blends with the surrounding colors, or see how it stands out.
How many times do we neglect those around us for the sake of completing a task? I’m sure it’s more times than we would like to admit. That task becomes the big picture, and those around us, that are helping and supporting us, become tiny brush strokes that we forget to notice. Most paintings without brush strokes are called abstract. Their subject is in the imagination, not concrete. This is also true with a plan without people. It is only a plan; a thought out process without action. This is why it is important to notice “tiny brush strokes”.
It is possible to never see the big picture because we are too focused on the brush strokes. This is often seen in what is known as micro-managing. In this process a person dictates every step of a process. Nothing gets moved or processed without their approval. This is good for training evolutions, but not for general work practice. By micro-managing we take a chance on smothering our employees. They will not have the luxury to grow on their own. Mistakes will be made. This is part of the learning process. This needs to be planned for but not warranted. A trust needs to be build between the employer and employee in order to insure a fair balance in management.
Now that we have the relationship between the “big picture” and the “brush strokes” defined, let’s take a look at the gallery. This is where everyone usually gets wide-eyed and nervous. “What do you mean gallery?” Believe it or not, there is more to a plan than just the people involved. There are the families, distributers, and others that we network with. These are the peripheral members in our plan. Neglecting these members will result in unexpected hiccups. Always be aware of those who are affected by the plan. Sending a single parent on detachment when their child is returning from summer vacation is not the smartest thing to do. Unless that single parent is prepared for that circumstance, they will not have their head in the game. I’m sure that I don’t need to go over the safety issues that this brings up as well…right?
So whether we are talking about work or home life, we should always notice the brush strokes, the big picture, and the gallery. If someone brings you a cup of coffee, don’t just give a nonchalant “thanks”. Let that person know that you appreciate them, “You’re awesome! Thanks.” If you are organizing an event, know who is involved and affected. It is important to know their plans and expectations as well. Stay flexible and prepare for the unexpected. Do not micro-manage. Trust the people around you. There is nothing wrong with holding people accountable. There is, however, a problem with smothering those around us in an effort to prevent hiccups. Find the balance and maintain it.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and may we always know who we affect.