How I Won the West

Hint: It wasn't by blazing a new trail.

A couple of summers ago while my husband and I were in Las Vegas, we decided to enjoy a bit of the great outdoors. This is not uncommon for us. We love the thrill of exploring new places!

On this trip we opted to tackle Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon. Turtlehead Peak is a 2,000 foot mountain that you ascend at a pretty steep grade. We had our work cut out for us in the triple-digit temperatures, but we were excited about the beautiful view that was in store.

As we were climbing, I couldn't help but marvel at the barrenness of the West. I began to realize how at ease I was because I could clearly see my destination.

As I was hiking, attempting to distract myself from the mountain in front of me and the fact that I didn't appear to be getting to my destination as quickly as I'd hoped, I began making some parallels to leadership. In this case I was following along behind my husband not questioning his leadership or direction. I'd like to say that I never question his leadership and direction but, well…I'd be lying. Frankly, I'm not a good follower. I like to be confident the leader knows where he is going and I'm not quick to trust if I can't see the destination for myself. In this case, I could clearly see that the leader was on the right track. Rewind to a previous family adventure when we were hiking in the woods of Tennessee and you wouldn't have seen such a calm, compliant follower.

This experience got me thinking about how well I really follow the leaders in my life. It's easy for me to get on board when I see a clear outcome and see the benefits in it for me. But how well do I follow and trust the vision and direction when the destination is not as obvious?

I think there is a lesson in this for both the leader and the follower:

As the leader, what can you do to make the destination more visible for your team? You might not be able to completely remove all the obstacles and give a direct line of site, but perhaps you can articulate the path a little more clearly.

And as the follower, how can you develop greater trust and confidence in your leader? Do you need to ask a few more questions? Can you talk more about what lies ahead? Can you trust even when you can't see?

February 03, 2011 at 1:50 PM

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