Magic in the Detials

Did you notice what I did there?

When people think leadership, they typically think visionary, driven, creative, and inspiring. In the words of Winston Churchill, “the empires of the future are empires of the mind.”

It seems nearly impossible to do big things without dreaming big dreams. While this holds true for today’s most successful leaders whatever happened to a focus on details too? If a leader’s job is to take the vision and translate it into reality, focusing on the big picture is simply not enough.

Today’s leaders require what’s article, Why Steve Job’s Exactitude Mattered as Much as His Vision describes as “relentless attention to detail – a ‘structured’ commitment to exactitude perfectionistic implementation” in addition to an ability to dream big like one of our favorite visionary leaders, Steve Jobs so aptly did.

So, as you move forward and consider this need to balance vision with details, below are three areas you can make it count:

First Impressions

Another great read says it best, “first impressions dictate your professional career.” And while much of a first impression isn’t always in your control, the article cites seven details you can focus on to better position yourself for success in that initial stage including body language, appearance, and emotional mindfulness to name a few. People are noticing the details and amazingly these small things could very well be the gateway between you and your larger professional goals.

Relationship Building

As you graduate from the initial first impression stage, the attention to detail, unfortunately, doesn’t graduate with you. Looking at what makes a leader, Daniel Goleman says the difference between the good and the great isn’t IQ (technical ability) but rather EI (emotional intelligence), an imperative in building strong relationships and highly functioning teams. While the skills encompassing EI seem easy enough (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skill) the attention to detail and level of discipline required to strengthen those skills is undoubtedly intense.


Peter Sims, a best-selling author and successful entrepreneur, explains the idea that conceptual innovators are exceptions to the rule. Most people aren’t prodigies and don’t begin with brilliant ideas.

Alternatively, he offers that most people discover brilliant ideas through small experiments that he refers to as “little bets.” As an example, Pixar actually began as a hardware company. The initial owner decided to whittle the business down to the smallest detail he could focus on and made a short film to showcase the value of the hardware Pixar was selling. With the combination of drive, conviction, and willingness to make little bets on the details, after many years (ultimately under the ownership of Steve Jobs) Pixar went from being a small relatively unsuccessful hardware company to among the most innovative digital animation companies around today.

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker

It is the small details combined that make up the actions, bringing the vision and bigger picture to fruition. If your end goal is to be a successful leader and make that positive difference, it is up to you to set the bar and demonstrate a capacity to balance an attention to the details collectively with a compelling vision for all.