Productivity & Effectiveness

The Art of noticing is the art of leadership

The art of noticing is the art of leadership and management.

Good managers and leaders notice what is happening around them. They develop skills to study, notice and pay attention. By studying what is happening, they can then make better decisions, choose where to focus energy and attention and how to solve systemic issues.

Here’s a video digging deeper into this:

Noticing isn’t enough though, there needs to be some frame put around what has been noticed, so you can draw attention to something.

This is why I’ve found creative pursuits, such as photography, to be so helpful in building this ability of noticing.

With photography you have to choose what to include and what to exclude from the photo. You have to notice what is happening around you. Sometimes that is things other people don’t spot, sometimes it’s the obvious that people take for granted. Photography is also about telling stories and capturing what is important in the moment.

And this is the same for leaders and managers. They must notice how work flows, how people come together to solve problems and how their organisations work. They must then draw a frame around what is important and decide what to exclude; after all, there are always more problems than we can realistically ever solve. They must then draw attention to what is captured to galvanise energy and attention around it. To move people into action they should tell stories.

This is photography. This is leadership.

  • Noticing what is happening and studying the world around you.
  • Choosing what to capture and what to exclude.
  • Drawing a frame around what is useful, helpful, meaningful, important.
  • And telling stories.

There’s a very real reality that I have pushed this analogy too far. But for me, photography (and other creative pursuits) has helped me to learn to notice. And this has helped me to become a better leader and manager. By noticing, focusing, narrowing down on what is important and telling stories.

The art of noticing is the art of leadership.

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