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Lost in the Wrong Details, or Leveraging the Right Details? (How You Can Know)


A friend of mine has his private pilot license and loves flying his Cessna. He is also fond of saying “Don’t bother me with the details, I’m not a details kind of guy.” Until he gets in his plane, then he’s all about the details. In fact, he wisely obsesses over details like making the flight plan even before he gets in the plane.

The key is focusing on the details that matter.

When it comes to your:

  • Pilot
  • Surgeon
  • Restaurant chef
  • Real estate agent
  • Dentist
  • Plumber
  • Kid’s teachers

You get the idea, pretty much everyone—you care about certain details too.

There is a huge difference between details that are unimportant distractions, and details that can actually change a life. A good leader knows the difference.

Obsessing on the wrong details can make you a micro-manager, obsessing on the right details can make you an effective leader.

  • Do you get stuck in the wrong details?
  • Do you miss important details?

I’ll let you in on a surprising fact.

The best leaders I know are very detail-oriented in at least one specific area. They don’t necessarily love all the details, but they pay close attention, and they are good at it.

For example, some senior pastors know the financial details backward and forward. Other senior pastors care about and are involved in every minute of programming for a Sunday morning.

(This is not limited to senior pastors.)

What details are you paying close attention to?

Good leaders are not focused on all the details, but they are focused on the right details at the right time.

This is not limited to the strategic elements of leadership, but very much applies to the spiritual nature of your leadership.

Being sensitive to the prompts of the Holy Spirit, those small quiet prompts that could easily be missed or ignored, can often make a major difference in eternal outcomes.

5 Ways To Help You Leverage the Right Details:

1. Determining the Right Details Starts With Discerning the Right Voices

The pressures you face as a leader can cause you to focus on details that are not the best use of your time. Gaining relief from a pressure is not a good reason to handle a detail.

Every leader has certain voices in their life that bring asks, expectations, and requirements. You can’t do all of them and still lead well, therefore discerning the different voices makes a huge difference.

Discerning who and what to respond to is not easy, but it’s not a mystery. It requires a thoughtful and deliberate nature that can discern from the many organizational priorities and personal needs.

For example, in your church, which details will advance the mission and help make progress? Don’t follow the loudest voice, do what brings measurable progress.

Or it might be more personal, maybe one of your kids brings you something really small, nothing you think will change the world, but it may change their world, so that makes it a priority.

It’s an art, don’t give up. The more intentional we are, the better we get at discerning the right details.