Leadership From a 3,000 ft. Perspective: Envisioning a bridge from where you are to where you want to go

I read a lot of books. On average, I read about one book every week. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve made it a practice to read the books of experts whom I interview for the 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success interview series.

Recently I completed reading “The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean: Lessons from the Road” to prepare for an upcoming interview with one of the authors, Jamie Flinchbaugh.

This is an exceptionally good book not only for its coverage of lean concepts, but also for highlighting the critical role of leadership in successfully transforming an organization from its current state to an ideal, future state.

One notion about leadership in the book that particularly resonated with me was –

“The single biggest failure of leadership is a failure to reflect.”

In today’s fast paced and “always on” interrupt mode of email, social media and so many other things, how many of us really “turn off” long enough to reflect? According to Roy Williams in a recent issue of the Monday Morning Memo, he quoted Joe Kraus, co-founder of excite.com who said, “Prior to the availability of smartphones, we accessed the internet an average of 5 times a day. Now the average is 27 times a day.” When you add it all up, isn’t it any wonder we all are having difficulty taking time to reflect? Does this play a role in so many of the leadership failures we see in so many of our organizations and institutions?

Realize that the world looks a lot different when you take time to reflect.

One of the unexpected benefits I’ve received from my personal passion for flying and aerial photography is the impact on my own personal desire to take time to reflect. Reflection isn’t time wasted. It’s time invested to take a step back to consider the big picture, see how everything interrelates, and make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Reflection will help you envision a bridge from where you are to where you want to go.

The view from 3,000 feet offers a unique perspective, and it’s my preferred altitude to fly when I want to experience the world right in front of me from an overall big-picture perspective

Major landmarks such as rivers, towns, mountains and interstates are often seen in their entirety, as well as in relation to each other, when you have a birds-eye view of what’s right in front of you. Your ultimate destination is on the horizon, and you can often see it even through the haze. Sometimes a bridge from where you are to where you want to go becomes clearly visible.

It’s the same perspective leaders need to take that will lead to tomorrow’s ideal state. 


Photo (c Bill Fox)

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