"Managers manage for yesterday, because that is where they got their experience. Leadership is about tomorrow."
Theodore Levitt

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 340

Estimated reading time:  2.0 minutes


Hello from a cloudy but surprisingly warm Vancouver. A huge blast of rain came through last night, and spring is certainly in the air. I spent the day yesterday on a retreat with my staff colleagues at Christ Church Cathedral. One of the items we discussed were the all important relationships in any organization between strategy, process, people, structure, leadership, dynamics, culture and the environment in which the organization operates. All too often we try and “fix” one area, say a process, and then are surprised to find that something else pops up as a ‘bug’ in the system. That is because of the all important relationships between the elements. Rather than discrete elements, they are all inter-connected. Like a mobile in a child’s room, if you pull on one element, the others are affected.


I found this child’s mobile to be a compelling image. It helps us think about the whole and not the parts. Too often we have been trained to break things down to their constituent parts and to focus on making the micro work. A useful as that can be, the risk is that we miss the whole. Here are three ways to stay focused on the whole mobile.


  1. Ask yourself, if we zoomed out to 30,000 feet, what would we see?
  2. Keep an symbol or icon on your desk or desktop, perhaps a picture of the earth from space or even a picture of a child’s mobile.
  3. Invest the time in .5 day or all day staff retreats to look at the big picture. For example, analyze the flow of an item from start to finish. 



We do need to focus on the small details to move ahead, but we also need to invest the time to look at the big picture, the child’s mobile to ensure that we are moving forward and not simply hopping up and down in one place.