You’re doing a good job, but it’s the wrong job.
I was speaking to an audience of about eighty people in a downtown Toronto hotel ballroom during a leadership meeting for a financial services client. In the middle of my presentation, the service door behind me opened; and in walked a hotel employee with a tray of full water pitchers.
Without a word — or any acknowledgement that there were people in the room or a presentation taking place — he began to replace the empty water pitchers on the tables with full ones. He banged and clanged his way through the room, walking in front of people – including me — as he purposefully carried out his task. He was focused, and doing a good job of replacing empty water pitchers. I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm. He was just doing his job, and by doing so, was ruining the client’s meeting. Unfortunately, the job he was doing was in direct conflict with part of the hotel’s stated vision: to create an environment conducive to productivity and effective meetings.
The waiter was so fixed on his task that he missed the overall point, which, of course, was for us to have a productive meeting. Disrupting the meeting and distracting everyone in the room created the exact opposite effect of what the hotel staff should have considered most important.
Vision should drive everything. What is the desired overall outcome? How can I best serve my customer, co-worker, vendor, or community in the interest of fulfilling that vision? Sometimes even with the best of intentions, we sacrifice the big picture by having counter-productive tunnel vision. This hotel employee, for instance, would have served the group’s interests much better by waiting until a scheduled break to replace the water pitchers.
The waiter understood his task, but he didn’t understand the point of his task. He didn’t understand how what he did fit in with the overall vision or objective of the organization. That’s a failure of leadership.
Make sure that everyone on your team understands how they fit in with and the contribution the make towards the fulfillment of the the organization’s vision. See the BIG picture.