What Your Pilot Knows (That You Don't) - Leadership Lessons from the Sky
As I was recently flying over the Pacific towards Japan I saw this image on the screen (right). This picture describes the next 11 hours of my life. I was, according to the map, in a plane. That is the most definitive part of this picture. The picture communicates my plane had come from somewhere (really helpful) and I was several white dots away from somewhere else (equally enlightening).
With no land masses drawn for reference I found myself unable to track any sense of progress. The very device meant to update passengers with our progress actually convoluted communication. My point is leadership without context is useless.
In your respective areas of leadership how clear are you? Where have you been? Where are you headed? What is your history? What is your future? What is the culture you have stepped into and what will that culture be tomorrow? If you aren't providing context within your leadership your flight path might not be worth the cost of a ticket. Parachute please!
Context is everything. When we fit the narrative of our lives and our careers into a larger narrative a spiritual motivation takes over. The tasks and challenges we face each day suddenly have value. They mean something. Authors of the New York's best seller, Switch point to the value of speaking to both the logical and emotive side of every person we hope to lead. Context speaks to both. Context is both informational and inspirational possessing raw data and unadulterated hope.
Context matters in our personal lives, it matters in our careers, and it matters when flying above the Pacific. If you find your seat is increasingly uncomfortable and the peanuts are getting old try throwing a little context into your meetings. Remind yourself (and everyone else) the land masses related to your journey. Provide contextualization for your team and see if you don't all gain some much needed altitude. The sky is the limit.