For Father’s Day, my son and I were invited by some friends to attend a professional baseball game. We were told the tickets we were given would give us the “best seats in the house.” When Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. he was sitting in the “President’s Box.” Why? Because the seats in that box provided the best overall view of all that could be seen on stage. If leaders are going to provide high quality leadership, they too need to be in a position to have the best view of the ballgame, the theatrical production or the general road ahead. This is what I call “Mountain Top Leadership.”
Good leaders do not have to, nor is it possible to always be on top of the mountain. Nor do good leaders always have to take everyone with them to the top of the mountain. But, be assured, regular trips up the mountain are necessary in order to be able to continue leading with excellence. “Mountain Top Leadership” means the leader has to be able to see the journey and plan the route from a viewpoint that is different from most. When standing on top of a mountain, you are able to see paths, rivers and openings that are not visible from the valley. Let’s say that I am in a canoe paddling down the Big Piney River in Missouri. You are in a helicopter several hundred feet above me. Six hundred yards in front of me are treacherous rapids that few have been able to navigate. I do not see the rapids nor do I know they are there; but you do. Why? Because of the place from which you are viewing the landscape. You see the danger and you can help me avoid possible injury and loss of equipment by warning me and guiding me away from the danger. This is “Mountain Top Leadership.”
“Mountain Top Leaders” see what others do not. They do this because they view things from a different altitude than others do. When was the last time you climbed the mountain to get a better view of where you are leading your people? What is it that keeps you from making regular trips up the mountain? Many things in life seek to prevent us from having the view that is necessary to properly lead. The obstacle that stands before you may different than the one that stands before me. Let’s help each other. Let me know if I can help you gain a better vision and give clearer direction to those you lead. Maybe you can help me too!