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Leadership Hyperopia: the good and bad of it

Leadership and Farsightedness.

According to the American Optometric Association, “Farsightedness, or hyperopia, as it is medically termed, is a vision condition in which distant objects can be seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus.”

I’ve been told I think big-picture. While I don’t consider myself a natural-born visionary, I like to think in broad swaths.  What could be possible?  What are the big implications if we could?  How would that change our long-term outlook?  These are things I like to think about, and they are all all admirable traits.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been told people don’t trust me at times to take care of the details. In fact, I write and speak regularly about the need for personal accountability as a leader (and the use of good time-and-task management tools and techniques) partly because I’m not always good at “listing my work” then “working my list.”

How about you, leader?  Are you so far-sighted that the close-up things don’t come into proper focus?

Two foundational necessities for leaders to earn trust are character and competence: who you are as a leader, and what you do as a leader. We often think of them as two separate necessities: Character is about honesty, fairness, truthfulness, etc., while competence is about skill and diligence.

Here’s the rub: you can be appear to be a leader of great personal character.  But if your competence in the day-to-day details – the close-up items of your organization – is so weak that it causes you to scramble, to cover your tracks, to even blame others when things don’t go well, your character becomes compromised due to your competence short-comings.

Leadership Hyperopia is an interesting challenge.  You and I as leaders need to be about the big picture.  We need to see further out than those on our teams.  But we also need to make sure this doesn’t impact our ability to see the close up details around us.