Attitude – Leading at 30,000 Feet & Avoiding Managing at 5,000 Feet Issues!

An immediate clue you’re leading at the 30,000 feet level is where your attention is and remains. A clue that you are immersed in 5,000 feet issues is that you are off course as an organization.

Managers fly at the 5,000 feet level, but leaders must fly at the 30,000 feet level! Where should you be? Better yet, as a tactical leader in today’s marketplace, where must your organization have you to succeed?

Far too many major corporations find themselves in trouble today for one simple reason. They have placed 5,000 feet people in 30,000 feet positions. The momentum of the organization may carry them for a period of time, but if they are not capable of flying at the 30,000 feet level, they will eventually crash and burn!

One of the first indicators that an implosion is about to occur happens when people are placed into positions in which they functionally cannot perform. The first thing to go is one’s attitude, which directly impacts one’s behavior and treatment of those around them.

The needless victims of this crash are the people who make up an organization, and if a public traded firm, the shareholders as well.

A tactical leader, regardless of the place from which he or she operates, must understand the subtle nuances of 5,000 feet issues and 30,000 feet issues if they are to remain positively focused and create the proper attitude for others to follow suite.

First, the Analogy:

An airplane pilot knows that when departing and arriving they must be very focused and in total control of all plane operations, functions and actions in the area between the ground and 5,000 feet in the air. Thus, a high level of hands-on activity takes place. Most airplanes from 5,000 feet upward are on autopilot, meaning the actual pilot is not continuously involved in the total activity of managing and operating. Most pilots cruise in commercial aircraft at the 30,000 feet range, and at this level, you are able to assume more of a leadership role. You can see your horizon, destination, goals and overall big pictures, enabling you to make individual calculated course corrections to attain a successful arrival.

Second, the Application:

As a tactical leader, you must ensure your team is vested, empowered and held accountable to the 5,000 feet issues and basic operational activities that make your organization what it is. Examples of 5,000 feet actions are functioning tasks such as:

Meetings
Delegation
Training
Implementing, educating and enforcing policies, procedures and rules
Facilitating basic business processes that are what you are and do
Interfacing with end users or customers
Front line activities and behind the scenes functions that reinforce each
Dealing with conflicts, confrontations, problem behaviors and counseling or disciplinary issues
Etc.

When you as a leader have to come down from the 30,000 feet level, maintain a healthy perspective (attitude) in all of your interactions with others, as people will model what you telegraph to them. Also, stay focused because it is in the 5,000 feet issues that you can rally significant positive mental attitudes from the team that allow you the energy force necessary to be productive, be profitable and regain the 30,000 feet focus.

Examples of 30,000 feet actions are functioning tasks such as:

Planning, mission statement design, strategy sessions, ensuring that the values and integrity of the organization are maintained
Organizing big picture issues, advocates, personnel assets, etc.
Coordinating resources and personnel talent pools from which business functions will be drawn today and in the future (succession planning)
Building partnerships and alliances, forecasting market needs and maintaining course clarity for growth
Etc.

A tactical leader must understand necessary interpersonal skills, how to work the people equations effectively at both levels and be committed to instant interactions, if necessary, to ensure maximum positive influence at each level. Therefore, when a tactical leader is not at the 30,000 feet level, they must ask, “Who is left at the destiny controls?”

Maintaining 30,000 feet control takes a powerfully focused, controlled and positive mindset (attitude). Ask yourself who you interact with, who you seek counsel from, who you collaborate with and who serves as your model. All of these are 30,000 feet tactical leader questions.

Making sure everyone is flying with you requires you to stay on top of the environmental matters that allow people to either soar or come down into the turbulence of 5,000 feet implosions and mundane functionality issues.

Dr Jeff Magee
Facebook (Get a FREE copy of my Performance Execution Ebook)
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http://JeffreyMagee.com

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