Heads UP, Heads Down
Last week was the 10th anniversary of the book “The Secret – What Great Leaders Know and Do“, by Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard.
In reading and giving an online review of the book over the last few days, it is fitting to keep with keep with the Monday UP theme by thinking about the “Heads UP, Heads Down” challenge.
The book describes the Heads Down aspect of leading as the implementation of the organization’s objectives and vision. I like to call it the operational, or nuts-and-bolts, portion of leadership.
Leaders everywhere seem to have a good focus on the Heads Down side of the coin. Whether the execution is there, or not, leaders instinctively know this part of their role.
What the authors make a point of distinguishing about the great leaders are those that focus on the Heads UP attitude. Heads UP thinking is devoting time to thinking about the vision and direction of the organization. It’s an opportunity to see the future, picture the future, and put the future in motion. It’s a thinking that cannot be done during Heads Down activity.
It needs a leader’s undivided, constant attention. Vision needs to be repeatedly communicates as it evaporates over time. Unless a leader keeps replenishing the vision to their people, it will fade and diminish.
Here’s an example of Heads UP, Heads Down activity:
Two boys raced across a snowy field. They each pointed towards a tree that they were to reach – the one who touched their tree first would be the winner. The boys had two distinct approaches.
The first boy ran with his head down, and the second boy ran with his head up. Who do you think won? It was the second boy. When they looked back at the trails they left in the snow, the second boys’ tracks were straight because he kept his eyes on the target. The first boy’s trail was back and forth. off target, until he neared the end. The lack of vision resulted in wasted time veering off course.
Heads UP gets things started. Head Down gets things moving. Heads UP keeps things moving effectively and with clarity.
Just one of the secrets of great leaders.