Too Far Is Just as Bad as Too Close
When we are too close to an issue, we can’t see the forest for the trees. Leaders who normally know exactly what to do about an issue can be blinded when the problem involves them or people they care deeply about.
The wise leader seeks to increase distance and gain perspective at such times, often using others as a sounding board to test their objectivity. Distance, after all, allows for viewing people and issues from more angles and altitudes.
Less obvious is the fact that getting farther away from people and issues has equal challenges. When leaders remove themselves from the day-to-day or give up meaningful contact with customers or clients, they lose touch with the hard realities important to make quality decisions.
Detachment from experiencing an issue or entity firsthand or depending on old data often produces a false image that can be precarious when acted upon. Not surprisingly, a leader disconnected from realities on the field of play can create an image that doesn’t match reality. When they push this reality in comments, choices, and decisions, those who understand the reality on the ground don’t know what to do. Explaining to the leader that they don’t “get it” is never a safe conversation for team members to have.
Spending a meaningful portion of their time with clients or customers and on the front lines is what good leaders do to give themselves perspective. They don’t depend on what they used to know or on trusted others to replace this direct contact.
The danger of too much distance carries with it significant consequences. The best leaders stay in touch with the realities others experience as a way of galvanizing their own.