Microscopes and telescopes are different instruments used in different scientific disciplines to help understand and explore what is being studied. While you have likely looked through both, you’ve likely not thought about their connection to your success as a leader. Until now. Both provide a view of the world, and both can help us learn. Which instrument you choose will change your leadership perspective and results. Which one do you prefer?
The Leadership Microscope
A microscope is a device used to view very small objects by magnifying their image. As a leader, we use a microscope to look at the details of a situation. The microscopic view helps us understand what happened and why it worked (or more frequently, why it didn’t). Microscopes help us see the details of a process and or system to identify issues so they can be corrected.
Microscopes help us in problem-solving and short-term thinking. Both are needed and both are important. But like any tool, they have limitations too. Do we need to be able to look at details and make corrections and changes? Of course. The more important question is who should be looking through the microscope the most – the leader or the team?
The Leadership Telescope
According to Telescope-optics.net, the purpose of a telescope is to make objects from outer space appear as bright, contrasty and large as possible. Leaders need to look to the future, and with tools like a telescope, they have a better and clearer picture of where they are headed.
In my limited experience with using telescopes, it is important to be clear what you want to see, then use the telescope to see it and understand it better.
Do you see the connection for us as leaders? Look out, decide what to focus on, then study more carefully through a lens that helps you see it more clearly. Teams are counting on their leaders to see the big picture, to provide the vision, and set the course and direction. Having access to a telescopic view is critical to the success of our teams and organizations.
Which Do You Prefer?
I chose to frame this post with a title that asked which you prefer. If I ask you whether you prefer classical or country music, your answer matters little. It would be better for me to look at your playlists. I’m not asking you an academic question of microscope or telescope. I am asking which do you pull out and use most often.
Finding Leadership Perspective
Like in science, there is a role for each of these powerful tools. Too many leaders spend too much time at the lab bench analyzing the details of the problems with their microscope, and not enough time looking out to the horizon and beyond to see where they are headed. Leadership perspective comes from looking out and up and not down and in. There is a time and need for the analysis that a microscope can provide. But without the context of the big picture that the telescope helps us see, we can never have the leadership perspective that will serve us and our team in the long term.
Finding the right balance between short-term and long-term thinking provides leaders with the perspective they need to make the biggest positive impact. This is one example of the types of practical and next-level skill development we explore and practice in our From Manager to Remarkable Leader learning experience. This two-day session is packed with insights and opportunities to learn from me and your peers too. Learn more, find dates, and get registered here.
If you are looking for a low-risk way to try this workshop for your organization, check this out to see if you qualify.