You know, I was hiking this beautiful fall day, and it got me thinking. The trails here in Pennsylvania are rocky, you really have to watch where you put your feet or you could twist an ankle. The problem is that if your head is always down watching your feet, you miss a lot of things.
I’m thinking that’s a good metaphor for leadership, too; today we’ll talk about ways you can keep your perspective so you can be sure you are leading your team down the right path.
Walking well but Losing Your Way
You know you do have to be smart about where you put your feet – don’t step on the rock; stay on the path; watch out for the snake. If you twist an ankle or get bitten or wander into the poison ivy, you may have a hard time getting to your destination.
That’s kind of like the day to day operations of whatever you or your team does. You want to do everything right. But if watching your feet is all that you do, your head will always be down, and you are going to miss a lot.
What happens if you don’t look up once in a while?
You could be on the right path but moving in the wrong direction.
Or maybe you missed a turn back there, so you’re on the wrong path altogether
Even if you are on the right path, you might miss something important along the way– wild blueberries, a deer in the forest, or a bear.
Ways to stay on the Right Path
Whether you are leading yourself or leading others, you have to keep some perspective if you are going to lead well; you need to be sure you and your team are on the right path heading in the right direction.
On the trail, the ways to get that perspective are pretty simple, and in the world, there is something similar you can do.
Trail: Lift your eyes and look up ahead and to the sides
World: keeping an eye on the competition , see what threats or opportunities might be emerging.
Trail: Read the trail signs and markers.
World: Look for changes in the environment – are there better paths to follow, new methods or systems you could use?
Trail: Ask someone you meet – is this the way to the spring?
World: Talk to customers, teammates, experts in the field and ask – are we doing the right things? What could we do better?
Trail: Stop to check your map, maybe pull out your compass
World: Review and update your annual plan, make sure you have challenging but realistic goals; see what kind of progress you have made in achieving them
Trail: Get some perspective by climbing a tree to getting to a hill top
World: pause for reflection; think about where you are headed, and if the path you are on will get you there.
When you do these things, you get to reaffirm that you are heading the right way along the right trail that is going where you want to go. And have a better chance of seeing and taking advantage of opportunities that might pop up along the way.
Your team’s job is to put their feet down safely every step of the way. Your job as leader is to make sure you have the team moving in the right direction.
In the video notes, I’ll leave you a list of a bunch of practical ways you can make sure you are keeping your head up and maintaining the perspective you need to lead your team effectively.
And that’s your RapidStart Leadership tip for the day.
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More ways to get some leadership perspective:
After key events, get input from your team on how they thought it went
Review the annual plan on a regular basis
Review the team’s goals; make sure they are SMART Goals; how is your team’s progress?
Develop a relationship with someone you respect, ask for personal leadership feedback
Talk with customers; find out what works well or doesn’t work with them
Develop a survey to get feedback; use it to identify problems as well as confirm strengths
Talk with teammates; what can we do better?
Get “down in the trenches” and learn how things are really working on the front lines
Read books related to what your team does; learn from the experiences of others, get new ideas (Leadership books here)
Find peer leaders who do what you do; share experiences
Pause to think and reflect, ask questions like:
Is the vision clear to all?
Do the goals match the vision?
Do people understand their roles on the team or is there confusion?
Are you continuously busy, or are you developing a team of leaders you can trust to get the job done?
Are you hiking with your head down, or are you able to look forward and up?