Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The last item covered by Jim Collins in his interview in Fortune Magazine is the ability to "zoom out" and see past the chaos in front of you.

He makes a great point about how worried people are right now. He then uses the example of a rock climber.

In the interview he states," As a rock climber, the one thing you learn is that those who panic, die on the mountain. You don't just sit on the mountain. You either go up or go down, but don't just sit and wait to get clobbered."

Unfortunately, I have been in too many meetings to count in my career in which no decision is made. They just keep asking for more data or another meeting is set.

Leaders are paid to make decisions. Go up the mountain or down, but go! You can always modify later but your employees need to know what you want them to do.

Now onto the issue of "zooming out" and seeing the big picture.

My brother is a retired fire department captain from Union City, NJ. Over the years as we have discussed leadership skills, he has always had great insights. In his profession bad leaders don't just lose money, they lose lives. So, I have tended to listen to him.

He has said the best leaders are those that can simultaneously be in the moment- fighting the flames right in front of them- but also be able to see the big picture and where it is going, what will happen next.

In my own experience dealing with crisis, I can tell you that it is overwhelming. There is so much to do, so many people that want your time, so many individual issues and challenges, and all items are urgent.

In addition to the leadership skill of being able to see the bigger picture, I strongly recommend getting a third party advisor.

Certainly, they bring an expertise on the issue you are facing. But I actually think they bring something even more valuable then their expertise on the topic.

They will be the only one not looking for answers from you as the leader. They are there to give you some answers and some help.

This is someone you, as the leader, can trust. They can be objective and they do not have a vested interest in the outcome.

Until next time,

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