I had recently heard a phrase, great leaders are good at zooming in and zooming out, it gave examples of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.
While it didn’t strike me then, after a little while of thinking more about it, a few days, to be frank, it dawned on me, like many great sayings, there is a lot of depth in the phrase.
The oblivious one is that great leaders, pay attention, pay attention to the details, but also pay attention to the larger pieces, how those pieces fit into a larger story, why each piece matters, how the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Paying manically attention to detail on the small things. Paying attention to the small things can get operational, which might make one lose focus on the large goal
Zooming out gives one a larger picture, but it also gives a goal for leaders to rally the troops around. Another great thing it does is allow leaders to see the entire machinery of the organization turn in parts, which part moves the other, hopefully, find operational efficiencies to solve. But Zooming out is not easy, it requires a leader to understand the basics of each part of the business, zooming into the smaller parts. (Which is also one of the reasons great leaders tend to have a quote or anecdote on every aspect of running a business.)
The ability to zoom in and zoom out is also critical for Product Managers, talking to clients & leaders in an org requires the product manager to be in a zoomed out mode. It is the opposite when talking to the teams the PM works with, high-level goals leave massive gaps in execution plans, worse can cause confusion in what actually needs to be built. Product Managers need to be able to function both as a strategy: Mission – Vision level and also at a ticket and status level.
This is fact is also true for most managers, across functions. We unknowing set ourselves to zoom in and zoom out. Employees who always question why, question the status quo, are curious are in the early stages of being able to zoom in and zoom out.