Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Improve Bigger Picture Thinking

April 13, 2016

One of the biggest complaints that business owners bring to me is their managers’ lack of big picture thinking.  They are frustrated that their managers are not delegating or training staff and are often too critical of others.  These destructive managerial behaviors can splinter any team and prove costly to the organization when considering wasted time, lost revenue and lack of creativity and innovation.

It’s interesting that when I begin working with a manager and tell them that their leadership wants them to improve their big picture thinking, I’m most often met with a blank stare.  Many managers don’t even know what big picture thinking means.  Most simply stated, its intimately knowing the organization’s overall goals and how each of the internal departments contribute to those goals.  Additionally, big picture thinkers can identify how specific behaviors, actions and decisions will impact those goals.

Big picture thinking is not something that can just be turned on at any time; one has to learn how to see small details in the scheme of the big picture.  Below are some practical exercises and techniques commonly employed in my coaching sessions that all leaders can use to improve their big picture thinking:

  • Confirm your expectations – Ask your manager to list the top 3 results they’d like from you by the end of your performance review cycle. This first step will help you ultimately define what is important within your department and will allow you to measure your daily activities and project in term of contributing to those goals.
  • Put yourself in their shoes – Whether it’s your boss or the people that report to you, look at things from their perspective. Do they see you as someone who is helping them achieve their goals or someone who is getting in the way?
  • Accepting feedback – Practice getting feedback from a variety of sources without judging whether it’s right, wrong or valid. Learning to accept everyone’s feedback (even the critics) will increase your confidence, which often leads to being more open to new alternatives and options.
  • Reflect on past successes and failures – Identify your specific actions and behaviors that led to the particular outcome. What are the lessons learned from these experiences that you can apply to today’s challenges and opportunities?  If it has worked for you in the past, keep doing it.  If it hasn’t, try something different.
  • Change the venue – Something as simple as changing your physical surroundings can help you view your performance with a wider lens. Get out of the office and work at Starbucks or your local library every once in a while.  Observe the people and situations around you.  Are the customers or employees happy? What do you think is driving their behaviors and how does it compare to your leadership style?

As a leader, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day when everyone’s urgent needs must be met on a consistent basis.  It is critical, however, that leaders are able to look outside themselves to assess their leadership effectiveness and make any necessary changes.  In the end, people tend to follow those who have an understanding of where they are headed and where they need to go.

To learn more ways you can increase your big picture thinking or other managerial topics, contact Leadership Coach, Tom Figiel, at  or 312-914-1341 for a FREE consultation today!

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

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