Successful leaders spend more time “soaring” than “swooping.” What does this mean? Their job is to focus on the vision for where the company is going and on planning through others the “how” of achieving that vision. On occasion, however, a leader may need to swoop down and check out the details of a particular situation or project to make sure all is going well.
The key is to not spend too much time in the details but to soar back up to vision and planning as quickly as possible. When leaders become engrossed with details, they tend to take two different approaches which can be counterproductive rather than productive:
• Getting “lost” in the details, asking too many questions, appearing impatient, and jumping too far into the minutiae. A leader who micro-manages can easily get off track, and it’s not the behavior of a leader that most people would want to work for.
• Getting “seduced” by the details, similar to a trivia game, by asking questions about “interesting” data rather than “useful” information. The best leaders only deal with the necessary details they can pragmatically use to achieve their vision and help their teams make plans.
So, the most effective leaders swoop down just long enough to make sure the team attends to the necessary details. Then, these leaders quickly soar back up to focus on vision and planning. Which do you do most often?