“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge.” —Summer Sanders
CEOs must see the upcoming organizational challenges from multiple perspectives with a big picture. They must be able to integrate their conceptual skills with technical and business acumen. Seeing the big picture can help avert organizational challenges and overcome them. Additionally, they must be able to forecast the future demands of the customers and clients to create products and services. The visionary CEOs like Richard Branson, Warren Buffett and Lou Gerstner have an innate ability to see the big picture. They could see what others could not.
Robert Katz and Conceptual Skills
Robert Katz outlines three levels of management—low, middle and top level management. At each level of management, there is a need for technical skills, human skills and conceptual skills. At the low level management, there is need for more technical skills and less conceptual skills. At the middle level management, there is equal need for technical skills, conceptual skills and human skills. At the top level management, there is more need for conceptual skills and less need for technical skills as the leaders involve in strategic management. And the need for human skills remains in the same proportion at all levels of management. Hence, leaders and chief executives must possess conceptual skills to see what cannot be seen by others. They must be able to vision and make decisions accordingly.
Leadership Lessons from Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is one of the world’s richest men. He is the legendary chairman and CEO of the biggest shareholder company—Berkshire Hathaway headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. He is an investor and philanthropist. He has received several honors and recognition including top money manager of the 20th century in a survey by the Carson Group and Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011. He saw the big picture and invested in companies reaping a great harvest. Hence, we will discuss about Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha and his leadership lessons. He is good at numbers with an eye for detail. He is a long-term player with a clear focus on his investments. Warren Buffett believed both in timing and time. He knew the right time to invest in the right companies. He made many mistakes while investing, and he advises youngsters and college students to invest wisely. Here are some leadership lessons from him:
- Be a voracious reader. He reads and reflects a lot. He reflects on the decisions he made in the past to assess and improve as per the present conditions.
- Be patient and persistent. He has lots of patience. He is an expert in numbers and analyses them thoroughly. He doesn’t give up.
- Articulate your ideas and insights effectively with others. He knows how to articulate his ideas with others. He influences his team with his ideas and carries them along with him.
- Identify the strengths of people and build the team accordingly.
- He gives his team members adequate “freedom to do by themselves” to run the organization.
- Associate with people who are smarter than you to improve yourself. Right ambience leads to right ideas and insights to add value in attitude, behavior and performance.
- Everyone makes mistakes. But we must learn lessons from mistakes and move on to make better decisions in future.
- Be clear and strong in fundamentals. He has clarity in his mind and invests in fundamentals. He is unmoved by market fluctuations. His investments are meant for long-term results.
- Learn when to hold and when to fold. He knows when to hold and fold his stocks.
- Lead a simple life. He believes in simple living and high thinking. He still lives in the same house that he originally purchased for just over thirty-one thousand dollars, and he owns one car. He leads frugally and enjoys McDonald’s hamburgers and cherry Coke.
- Emphasize ethical values. He is very transparent in his dealings. He emphasizes more on “means” rather than “ends.” He once remarked, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
- Make a difference to the world. He shares his profits through philanthropic activities to make a difference in the lives of others. He is a great philanthropist.
How to Develop a Big Picture Thinking?
We often come across two types of people in our life—the “big picture people” and the “details people.” The big picture people are highly creative and innovative. They are visionaries. They see what others cannot. In contrast, the details people often emphasize numbers and cannot move forward unless they are convinced by those numbers. You can develop the big picture thinking easily. Here are some tools and techniques to develop it:
- Find out your biological clock and work on your passionate areas.
- Break into small pieces; work on them independently; and then integrate them to acquire the big picture.
- Work beyond your domain to widen your horizons.
- Meet people outside your area of interest.
- Discuss with people to generate more ideas and then work on execution.
- Travel to different places and meet new people as it enables you to integrate different experiences to develop a broad mindset.
- Invest some time to reflect every day. It helps you overcome your busy tasks and unclogs your mind.
- Be in solitude as solitude is fortitude. Go to a serene place to think things through. Don’t allow any thoughts to enter into your mind. It helps you think from new perspectives.
- Take role models who are good at big picture. Find out how they overcame their challenges by looking at a big picture.
- Think big, dream big, create a blueprint and then break it into actionable steps to achieve it.
Remember, the journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. Hence, take the first step to build your big picture thinking.
It is essential in the current competitive world to see the big picture to avert organizational challenges. Hence, leaders and CEOs must learn lessons from Warren Buffett to see the big picture to minimize organizational challenges and maximize organizational effectiveness.
Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 37 years of experience and the author of 37 books including the award-winning ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’. He is a C-Suite advisor and a sought-after keynote speaker globally. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He shares his leadership wisdom freely with the world on his four blogs. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030. He is a dynamic, energetic and inspirational leadership speaker. He can be reached at: [email protected].