Leading at Elevation Part 3

IMG_7330You’ve reached your goal, pulled off that event, launched that initiative and otherwise climbed that mountain as a team. Congratulations! Enjoy the view. Take in the moment. Give God glory and thank those who helped you get there. Now, how do you get down? What do you do with the fact that more than 2/3 of all injuries and deaths on peaks such as Mt. Everest happen on the descent?

Here are 4 suggestions for leading well on the way down…

Plan and prepare for coming down well before going up. Talk as a team about what it will look like after the goal is reached or event is over. What will it mean to the overall organization and the leadership team? What do you hope to accomplish and learn? What about the more practical matters… do we come down the same way we went up? Who will clean-up, tear-down, pack-up and otherwise “leave no trace” in order for the next expedition to launch? Don’t be caught off-guard by over-looking the age-old axiom… “What goes up, must come down.”

Take your time. Gravity has a way of encouraging a rapid descent. Resist the temptation to rush down and move on to the next “big thing.” You went up as a team, now come down as one. Watch your step. Be sure to monitor the descent… how is everyone doing along the way? What was their view from the “top?” How are they feeling as they come off the “high?” Divers know this reality in reverse as they explore the depths of the ocean… you can surface too quickly and become very ill, even die if you don’t take your time, giving your body time to adjust at every change in depth.

Leave no trace. If you packed it in, pack it out. Consider how your success will impact other teams, goals, events or initiatives. Talk about this with your team and other teams. Don’t clutter the route that others will be traveling and spaces others will be using. Do your part to clear the way, leave it as you found it or improve it when possible by cleaning up any other messes that may have been made by you or anyone else.

Unpack (and repack) together. Finally, debrief intentionally. Gather shortly after everyone has made it off the mountain. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Then, gain perspectives. Did we accomplish what we set out to accomplish? What went well? What didn’t? What surprises were there? What caught us off-guard or unprepared? How do we improve? How do all of these lessons help us pack for the next trip together?

Reaching great heights as a team is only half the journey. Come down off that mountain as well or better as you gained it’s summit and enjoyed it’s views.

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