Uplifting Leadership

In aerodynamics, uplift is the force created by airflow, momentum, and wing design that enables large birds or huge aircraft to take off against gravity. Among people and within organizations, uplift is the force that raises our performance, our spirits, and our communities to attain higher purposes and reach unexpected levels of achievement.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark. – Michelangelo.

The process of uplifting leadership involves six interrelated factors. Each of these factors also exhibits some inner tensions between what people conventionally consider to be “soft” and “hard” parts of leadership and management.

Dreaming with Determination. The uplifting journey begins by defining a dream, but that depends on determination to overcome the inevitable setbacks.

Creativity and Counterflow. Uplifting leadership inspires creativity that often goes against the mainstream.

Collaboration with Competition. Part of the counterintuitive approach of uplifting leadership is the willingness to collaborate with actual and potential competitors.

Pushing and Pulling. Team members are going to push each to accomplish more, to meet above-normal expectations. But they will also support each other, helping those who have fallen down or behind, as they are all united by a common purpose.

Measuring with Meaning. Uplifting leadership makes extensive use of data to manage and monitor progress but also uses data intelligently in ways that fit the values of the organization – and that are meaningful to and genuinely owned by the people who work there.

Sustainable Success. Uplifting leaders are focused on success, but at the same time they want that success to be sustainable.

Summing-up: Uplifting leadership entails engaging a talented team that values risk and creativity, acknowledges and tolerates honest mistakes, and has members that participate and ‘play’ in interchangeable roles and positions. They inspire each other as leadership emerges throughout the group.

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