Part 7 of 7 on Leadership: Where Eagles Dare: The Choice – Fly or Walk?

05 Sep


Proverbs 20:28 [MSG] Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.

Fly or Walk?

Now that the leader has established him or her self as a vital member of the organization and has been able to establish his or her team a huge challenge faces them. The challenge is to fly or walk. In numerous organizations and teams around the world leaders start out with a fire in their belly. They kick, scratch, claw, and fight for everything they get. They convict, convince, and complete their teams. They search, structure, and secure their vision, direction, and purposes. They battle the turkeys, tyrants, and teammates for respect, resources, and reason. After they have all of these tasks accomplished the level of energy can reach an all time low. It has been said about many dreams, “Most of the fun in accomplishing dreams is in the fight to get there.” After the fight for the right to lead the leader must dig deep inside and determine to fly and not walk.It is in this time, when energy and emotions are low, a leader must guard him or her self against the temptation to walk.Walking takes less energy. Walking ruffles less feathers. Walking is easier because an eagle does not have to fight for air space on the ground. Walking is dangerous because it is not what eagles were meant to do. A leader must be careful not to walk for long or he or she might get caught and get their wings clipped. An eagle must be careful not to walk because they leave themselves open to the attacks of natural and unnatural predators. An eagle belongs in the sky soaring above the clouds. A leader belongs in the game using their gifts and talents to accomplish their dreams and goals. So determine to fly not walk!

Remember the Fight

The decision to fly and not walk can be made easier by remembering the fight. A leader must remember the reason for the fight and the rewards of winning the fight. They must never forget the fire the that burns bright in their belly. They must remember the vision, purpose, and passion that drove them to take on all comers. When they first came onboard they kicked, scratched, and clawed for everything they got. The kicking, scratching, and clawing took and tremendous amount of energy but it was worth it. It is always worth it. They have convicted, convinced, and completed their teams. This is no easy task. The teams that have been formed are counting on the leader to lead them. Assembling a team through the conviction to do something bigger than they are is powerful. Convincing a group of people to join a team and convincing the individuals that they are the right people for the team and the job is an awesome accomplishment. Completing a diverse team of people, each with special gifts that make the team great and individuals stronger is life changing. To convict, convince, and complete such a team and never allow them to fly is a travesty. A leader must realize the people who are on his or her team expect to fly and not walk. They did not sign on to walk, they can do that on their own!

Remembering the Vision

A leader must remember the beginning when they searched, structured, and secured their vision, direction, and purpose.They must remember why they do what they do and they must remember why they are doing to do what they do.Sometimes vision can be lost. If the vision does stay in the forefront of a leaders mind he or she can forget their reason to fly and the ground starts looking mighty tempting. In a world filled with distraction a leader must be careful not to get distracted and lose direction. Losing direction or getting lost in the mundane can cause a leaders feet to touch the ground.This author knows what can happen when the purpose a team was created for becomes undefined. When a leader and team lose purpose they lose drive, focus, and passion. As a result of the loss of the aforementioned components and leader quits flying and ground himself. When a leader gets grounded he or she has the potential to ground the whole team. It is of utmost importance that a leader stays true to the vision, direction, and purpose that has brought him or her to the place they are. Walking must not be an option! Flying must be the only option. Only the leader can determine that flying is the mode of travel for his or her team. Remember the leader sets the standard.

Remember the Victories

In chapter five the challenge and ways to deal with the turkeys was outlined. The leader who has made it through the fire of battling the turkeys, tyrants, and teammates has tasted victory. Battling turkeys is a tough task that has the power to drop the energy level of a leader to dangerously low levels. Especially if the turkey is a “prince” or has the ear of the head leader. Once the battle is over and the turkeys have been thrashed by results based weapons a leader must seek to stay in the air. A leader who decides to walk after battling the turkeys does not win! If they are walking they are side by side with the turkeys. Eagles fly, turkeys walk! Dealing and battling the tyrants is a lot tougher. Sometimes the tyrants are “princes”, sometimes they are other leaders, and sometimes they are inherited form the former team and leader. The tyrants hold a lot more power and pull. If the leader has been successful at thwarting the tyrants he or she should celebrate the victory by flying higher. However, after a battle with a tyrant leaders can find themselves “on the ropes” and ready to “throw in the towel”. It would be easy to decide to walk for a while after a serious battle with a tyrant but that can be harmful to the leader’s future. Walking is comfortable and does not take much effort. Once a leader begins to walk he or she might decide walking creates less stress and uses less energy and he or she may decide they will take the easy way out. The rationale may be “I have won the battle and proved my point now I’ll just walk.” This is not a wise choice. Battling teammates is completely different story. On many occasions this is healthy competition. After the respect of the teammates has been earned a trust is built. Leaders on the same team in an organization that is made up of teams naturally are going to battle for resources and reason. A leader who puts a gallant battle for resources and reason must not be willing to sacrifice flying for walking after the battle or what he or she has secured my be taken and given to the one who is willing to stay airborne. Walking once the respect, resources, and reason has been established is a major mistake for any leader.

The Danger of Walking

When energy and emotional strength is low a leader must guard him or herself against the temptation to walk. Walking takes less energy. While walking does take less energy it is also less productive and less rewarding. It also creates problems within the team of the leader who wishes to walk and not fly. Walking ruffles less feathers. It is true that less feathers will be ruffled. It is also true that passion is lost. Ruffling feathers keeps the fire in the belly of the leader stoked. Not that ruffling feathers is good all the time, however, a good ruffle on occasion does not hurt. There is no battle for ground space in an organization full of eagles. The only people fighting for ground space are turkeys. It is easier to battle a turkey than an eagle. Eagles were meant to fly not walk. It is extremely unfulfilling for an eagle to walk. An unfulfilled leader leaves the door open to have his or her wings clipped. If they stay grounded long enough they become caged and eventually tame. Once the wings have been clipped the desire to fly will be removed so that even when the wings grow back the eagle will no longer desire to fly. Predators both natural and unnatural become a worry for the eagle on the ground walking. In the sky there are a lot less predators. On the ground the eagle is open to unnatural and unexpected predators.An eagle belong in the sky just as a leader belongs in the game leading and using their gifts and talents to accomplish their personal dreams and goals and those of the team and organization of which they belong. So to all leaders this author says, “Fly don’t walk.”

Life Lessons From The Author

In this author’s experience it is always tough to continue to fly. The temptation to walk after a successful event, launching, meeting, seminar, or outing is great. I have found that when I leave the sky and hit the ground there is a tendency for my team to do the same. Maintaining excellence in what you do is a must. I found that out the hard way. I decided one time that I would slack off on my responsibilities to recruit and lead current leaders. It was disastrous! I had people taking vacation and no one to cover them. My people were overworked and undermanned. People were leaving and finding qualified replacements was almost impossible. I learned quickly that walking was not for me if I wanted to be successful. I quickly got back in the air and I have stayed there ever since! Of course, it is important to take vacations and breaks to keep oneself fresh and prevent burn out. A leader who is flying and soaring with his team and organization will be able to take those breaks because he or she will have created a culture that allows for breaks. The recovery from my walking took a good long while. Now I strive to keep recruitment at the top of the list and hands on training a priority. This way I keep my team flying high. I do not want any of my team walking so I stay off the ground.

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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in COAH


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