big picture

by Kevin Eikenberry

Our surroundings impact our thinking and perspective a great deal.  When we walk into a building with a company logo on the door, see news and metrics on hallway monitors, we are being reminded in subconscious ways of what we are doing and what we are a part of.  When we work from where we live, there are fewer reminders of the connection to work, beyond our technology and perhaps our own to-do list. 

The fact is the longer we work apart from others and in our own homes, the more insular we become, the more we see our work as our own (and not a part of something bigger), and the shorter term our work focus might become.  This disconnection of our work adds to the physical isolation from others, which creates problems that can move far beyond work output and quality.

How to Stay Focused on the Big Picture

This psychology can be overcome by a personal awareness to stay connected and focused on a bigger picture, but this isn’t solely an individual issue. This situation exposes an executive imperative: In a world where people are working in different places at different times, and perhaps never working in physical proximity to their leaders – creating and communicating common purpose and goals is critical to success.

Here are some specific things executives and senior leaders can do to overcome this new challenge.

  • Don’t rely solely on the quarterly town hall.  Chances are you have some sort of regular across the organization communication process. Use it, but don’t stop there.
  • Share the big picture more frequently.  When you are tired of sharing it, you are just getting close to everyone understanding it. Note that we don’t remember an advertising message until at least seven impressions.  
  • Meet with different groups.  Meetings might be virtual or face-to-face, but find ways to connect in different and perhaps unexpected ways to share the big picture and thank them for their efforts in moving toward it.
  • Use a variety of communication mediums.  Shorter, more regular video messages, more Q&A and dialogue opportunities, emails of encouragement, and maybe even a blog.
  • Be real.  If your organization is large, you have a communications department, but senior leaders need to be real, transparent and personable.  Others can edit, but the messages should come from you.  The more real the communication, the better.
  • Create repetition with being repetitious. Your goal is to embody the purpose and mission, to care about the goals so that all of your communications share those important messages, without feeling like you are giving the same speech over and over.  (And if you are still thinking speech and not conversation you are missing my point).

This is every leader’s job

While senior leaders must embrace these actions, the work doesn’t end with them (or even rest solely on their shoulders).  Leaders at all levels need to be more conversant, consistent, and diligent in communicating purpose and goals with a distributed workforce.  Beyond that they must become more adept at connecting the daily work of the team (and individual team members) to the corporate or organizational goals and strategies.

In this new distributed, hybrid model of working the leader’s role in communicating vision, purpose and connecting goals to daily work has never been more important.  Hopefully now you see that as more than a slogan, but a call to action for us all as leaders to create purpose, communicate goals and connect daily work with both of those things. 

This piece was originally posted in Remarkable Results, a LinkedIn Newsletter. If you want more practical ideas for remote and hybrid work, and what the future of work will hold, you can subscribe (for free!).

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He has spent over 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.

Twice he has been named by as one of the Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference. The American Management Association named him a “Leaders to Watch” and he has been twice named as one of the World's Top 30 Leadership Professionals by Global Gurus. Top Sales World has named him a Top Sales & Marketing Influencer several times, and his blog has been named on many “best of” lists. LeadersHum has named him one of the 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership in 2023.

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