What Is the Altitude of Your Leadership?

Leaders spend their days working to make their business grow. You want to reach and serve more people and in the process generate a benefit for your effort. That benefit can be increased stock value for your shareholders, improved personal wealth for you and your team, or solving a cultural problem such as homelessness and bettering the lives of more people through the goods or services you offer.

Whether you work 6 or 16 hours in the day, there’s only so much time you have. How you spend it can make all the difference in terms of the growth and results you achieve. There are different levels of altitude where you need to give your attention. Spend too much time in any one area and your business will not reach its potential. Let’s look at these.

Ground Level View – This is where too often leaders of smaller organizations find themselves trapped. As a consequence, the organization’s growth is stunted. Ground level work is answering emails, putting out fires, taking customer calls and complaints, dealing with personnel issues; you know, the day-to-day things that can completely suck up your time to where you get home after dark, exhausted and your spouse asks you “What did you do today at work?” and you find yourself with that sinking feeling knowing that you can’t readily share anything of consequence. The things you work on here have little impact on your company brand.

15,000 Feet View – Here, you’re working on projects that once completed will bring a measured result. You’re finishing up a new incentive plan, approving a new manufacturing process that will increase efficiency, publishing your next book, launching a new marketing campaign. This work is more rewarding but the results are still more short term. They bring in new revenue or cut costs but the impact has more to do with quarterly results rather than sustainable growth trends. The things you work on here can enhance your brand.

30,000 Feet View – OK, now you are thinking about vision, mission and values. You are asking the tougher questions related to “is my company on course, heading in the right direction?’ Decisions you make here will likely result in hiring a new key leader, eliminating a product line that is declining in value, or starting a new division of the company. The things you work on here have direct impact in shaping your brand or expanding the awareness of your brand to the audience you are called to serve.

Stratosphere View – Here you are dreaming and thinking about matters that address the central purpose of your organization. Why do you exist? How can what you do shape society, have the greatest impact on the world. Where have you gotten stuck in tradition and processes that are no longer relevant or even necessary? This level of thinking has to do with your calling. Are you living out the highest and best version of you possible? How about your organization? Where is your industry heading? What changes need to be initiated now that will only have an impact 10-15-20 years from now? This is where dreams become vision. Decisions made at this level can result in brands becoming iconic.

Now ask yourself: Where are you spending your time? Is there an altitude you are ignoring that needs your investment? What is the ideal mix for you in this season of your life and work? Maybe you are way too engaged at ground level. If so, what will it take to back out? Maybe you love the stratosphere but need help bringing those dreams into reality by focusing more on 30,000-foot and 15,000-foot implementation?

There’s not one right answer for everybody. Hint: Great leaders tend to look higher. 🙂



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