When Micro Turns Evil… Beware Its Power

“Big” is a big deal – from data to news to change to portions (at least here in the States!),“big” grabs our attention.

Our “big” idea here at Lead Above Noise , is that the real power often lies in the small; the micro, even. And we teach this in one of our signature workshops, Create Big Impact Through #Microchange .

So why raise this today? Are we going dark and evil because Halloween approaches? No.

We raise it now because while “big” gets our attention, “micro” often goes unnoticed. And left unchecked, its impacts can be insidious. And we all – leaders or not – need our antennae up.

Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly – they didn’t happen overnight. Aggressions start small – micro – and they go unnoted, unreported because they leave us questioning whether we saw anything at all.

And while those two “gentlemen” provide examples of the ugliest impacts, we see the danger of micro-aggressions play out every day, in much more subtle ways.

Related: How to Give Your Intuition a Voice and a Plan to Implement

A friend – a woman of color – has recently been interviewing for executive-level positions. And in three different conversations, with three different organizations, she was told she “is not that dark,” “looks Italian,” and something else about a “chick” (yes – a reference to a female client of this organization’s).

The power in these moments is frankly in the absence of malicious intent. No offense was intended. But the power of words is significant. They create a mood, a culture, and a sense of what is “ok” and normal.

And while often it’s the senior-most leaders that control the macro, every one of us has the power to influence the micro.

Whether we’re on teams that are in the midst of significant change, or we’re just pursuing business-as-usual, it is imperative that we all balance our big thinking with our awareness of the micro.

Absolutely, vision, strategy , and succession planning have their “big” places. Rightly these command our attention. But so too must the details of our day-to-day. Macro and micro demand balance.

Our challenge to you is to bump up your awareness just a notch today. How are you carrying yourself in a meeting? What questions have you posed or not posed? Does your language create freedom or fear around failure?

What is the smallest positive change you can be today?