Working with Leaders at Different Levels – Part 1

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January 12, 2016

Greetings from Steamboat Springs, Colorado and LeadershipOnTheMountain™! We’re back up here with a small group of leaders enjoying ski time and making connections between our leadership back home and how well we execute great skiing on the slopes.

We’ve had 50” of snow in the last four days and our skill levels are plain for all to see. One of our leaders has made great progress, but simply needed to go a bit slower than the rest of the group. We used that time wisely in movement analysis as we watched him come down the slopes. What was he doing well? What was he doing that was holding him back? How does that apply to your own skiing right now? What are some of your bad habits? Over lunch we explored how this idea parallels our own patience and effectiveness as leaders back home.

Working collaboratively with leaders at different skill levels (or as we say, different leadership action logics – how we each see and understand leadership) is part of organizational life in leadership. Most leaders are familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence and the writings of Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, Primal Leadership). One thing we often say in the area of Change Leadership is that we cannot expect people to understand, adapt or recover on our time frame. In the organization, especially during times of volatility and uncertainty, people often panic in herds and recover one by one.

So what does that say about your expectations about working with others? Are you mindful in balancing your sense of urgency with realistic patience? How well do you communicate your needs or perspective? Are you picking up on the feedback people are giving you when they aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like? Are you curious about it?

Just as it’s difficult to ski together as one group when some are able to ski well and fairly quickly through challenging terrain (steeper slopes, ungroomed snow, trees), leaders need to work effectively among the differences of understanding about how to lead and how to influence others.

Effective leadership means we put together the skills of our team where we’re presently gifted, seek to develop what we need to be successful, and recruit talent or skills as needed. How’s that working for you? On a scale of 1 – 10, how effective are you in helping your group toward a common, clear direction? Who do you know that does that well? What do they do (behaviors) that helps everyone get pointed toward that true north objective?

We all cannot ski the black diamond runs, and even those who can don’t always enjoy spending all day there. I personally get drained very quickly skiing moguls the size of Volkswagens. Just so, working effectively with leaders at different levels will always be necessary.

The wise leader often adopts a emotional intelligence/Serenity Prayer approach to leading the team and working with others: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (on my time frame); the courage (patience & understanding) to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.


BE BETTER NOW – A Leadership Call to Action – Take a moment right now to put your thoughts into action

  1. What is ONE ASPECT of your professional life that might benefit from more or different attention in this subject area (enhancing the impact you make on others)?
  1. What is ONE THING you could do TODAY that would move you more deliberately in this direction? The Behavior or action I could take (verb); I will…
  1. HOW will you ensure you are developing – WITH WHOM can you share this goal or add to your brain trust to hold yourself accountable?
  1. MAKE a 10 minute calendar appointment right now to check in with yourself on this topic next week (better yet – for each following week). Keep it practical – write brief notes on two questions only:
  • What clear steps did I take last week for my own development?
  • What will I focus on executing next week?

Need some thought partner time? – Call/email at 336.918.8415

Practical – Relevant – Immediately Useful