Losing your way

Losing your way

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my book Leadership that Lasts:  Seven Actions toward an Enduring Impact.  That chapter, entitled “Commit,” focuses on the critical importance of values and direction in leading teams and organizations.

Pilots, perhaps more than any other types of leaders, understand the cost of losing track of one’s direction, even in a seemingly small way.  All novice pilots learn the 1-in-60 rule.  It’s a rough estimate of the costs of miscalculating direction.  For every degree a plane is off its proper path, the rule states, the pilot will find she’s one mile off her destination.  So, for example, if a plane is just a degree off course flying from Philadelphia to Chicago O’Hare (589 nautical miles), the pilot could end up looking for the airport as she flies over Wheaton or Schaumburg, Illinois, about ten miles from the correct destination.  Oops.  That small miscalculation could have potentially serious consequences.

Andy Hargreaves takes a similar perspective.  Several years ago, I was fortunate to host the Boston College education professor during a session of the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders.  At one point during the day, Andy talked about the misperception that leadership is all about moving forward.  “Leadership,” Hargreaves pointed out, “is about both progress and direction.” Leaders can lead.  But where are they leading?  Are they truly committed to the correct destination or will their chosen direction require them to look for a landing strip over their metaphorical Schaumburg?

© Tim Matheney, 2018