Look out the window the next time you are on a flight and you will be reminded of the value of taking a 30,000 foot view of things. The ability to perceive the lay of the land is easy in a plane. Unfortunately, when it comes to our lives, most of us grind away on the ground, rarely examining what is really happening. If leaders expect to remain effective it is vital for them to pick their heads up occasionally and assess their situation.
In his book, Leadership is an Art, Max Dupree wrote, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Defining reality can be difficult for a leader as his influence grows within an organization. Truthfully, it is easy to become insulated from reality and live in denial.
Denial is the great robber of high performance. Most of us tend to believe we are doing better than we really are. The courageous leader is the one who looks in the mirror and admits there is progress to be made. Better yet, he goes to his team and asks how things are really going. Courageous leaders also look at the competition in hopes of gaining a sense of how to improve, benchmarking for better results. Additionally, reality can be discerned from trusted counsel … by asking those, even outside your organization who can bring a level of candor you may not be able to find internally.
Great leaders know that a part of seeing the future is having a good sense of what is true and embracing their current reality as a starting point.
Seeing the future is important, but remember, the number one responsibility of a leader is define reality.
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