was successfully added to your cart.

Leadership at the Top

“Just hop over that rock and rappel down.”

From my position near the top of Mount Washington (elevation 7,794 ft (2,376 m)), “that rock” blocked my view of its other side. I was incapable of leaping into nothingness. It wasn’t fear of the 400 foot drop; I simply couldn’t let go and blindly jump.

Every day, business authors, bloggers, and corporate leaders encourage us to “leap into the void,” “take risks,” and generally terrify ourselves into bold action.

By all means, create a culture that encourages bold moves. But if not everyone in your organization is ready to jump, don’t conclude a total lack of gumption on their part.

I challenge you to look at your team, their interests and skills, and make some offers. Maybe your suggestion to “become our public face and expert on big data cold fusion” is met with interest, but inquiries: “What would it look like?” or “How would I learn?” In that case, provide guidance to high potential people who are hanging back. Offer training, mentoring, and a chance to test boundaries. With some attention you will find more than just your jumpers achieving at higher levels, giving you the opportunity to find your own next peak.

This year a few of my clients took huge leaps and astounded their peers. One was offered the chance and immediately jumped. The others had great potential that took some support to unlock.  I knew how to help them because others had helped me.

On Mt. Washington, I was with a couple of great climbers. When one saw me firmly rooted to my rock, he stopped telling near death stories and switched to basic instructions. “Move your top hand 5 inches to the left, great, now put your foot in the crevice just above your knee.”  Focusing on these steps let me feel the rope, take some breaths, and then yes, leap over that rock, into the void, and rappel down.

It was exhilarating.