From the President's Desk

From the President’s desk: The Everest of Leadership

The other day, I logged into LinkedIn. (Riveting, right?)

A new message from one of my employees caught my eye. Opening it, I found myself staring at a simple graphic: four wide triangles, arranged along the bottom of the picture to represent mountains, and three stick-folks perched on of the triangles in the foreground, leaning forward with their arms stretched in front of them, all holding onto a blue rope. The blue rope went along the whole mountainside, up to the top, where it was held by a fourth figure in a backpack, one arm out around a flag. Plain black text that read “Inspirational Leader” filled the background. 

The whole graphic, I swear, is one by two inches. That’s it. Not a Bob Ross mountainscape. But boy did I choke up when I saw it. Talk about flattering!

This little clip art metaphor got me thinking about our team, and how our professional journey often mirrors that of a mountain climber. While we’re not pitching camp each night on the snowy slopes of Nepal, we do have our own mountains to tackle. And just like with professional climbers, the mountains vary in size and difficulty. Sometimes we find ourselves set back by our lack of preparation, and other times, crevasses appear out of nowhere, forcing us to reroute. The same is likely true for you and your team.

What does it take to inspire teams to get to the mountain top? For me, it’s being that inspirational leader and remembering success as a leader is different from success as a manager. Managers achieve great things, but leaders – get this – spend most of their time inspiring others to do great things. Leaders thrive on the success of the group, meaning your whole team has to come up the mountain. It’s not a solo ascent. And it’s going to be tough, so you have to instill passion and vision in those around you if you plan to reach the summit.

Great leaders also understand that success looks different for different team members. This can be hard to wrap our heads around. People on your team may have different goals, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s your job as the leader to create unity, determine how those differing goals align with the group goal, and get the best out of each person’s unique perspective to accomplish the shared objective. 

So, what’s your Everest? Think about your team and your goals. What are you going to do today so your team can reach the next foothold - the next spike into the ice? Who knows - maybe a few more days like this one, and you’ll be with your team looking down from the top.