Leadership – The Journey to the Top

Today we had a chance to hike up to Sunset Peaks, just outside Scottsdale AZ. It was a beautiful day, and we were feeling happy as we headed uphill. We had our water, our snacks, and our shoes that would anchor us on the gravel paths, both up and down.

After we had been climbing for about 40 min’s, I looked ahead and off in the distance saw very small people on the path switch backs, getting closer to the top. For a brief minute, I wanted to be where they were – seeing what they were seeing. And on we plodded. As we got closer to the top, we met people coming down. “Is it beautiful up there?” I asked, a little longingly… One teenage girl, with her mom responded profoundly – “actually, I think the views along the way are the better part of the journey”, she said.

As we got closer to the top, it got steeper and more challenging, and I found myself no longer looking out at the views around me, but carefully paying attention to how I was putting one foot in front of the other. I had to remind myself to stop and take in the views – or I would have missed them altogether!

Consequently, I found myself reflecting on leadership and the tradition view of leaders who are ‘at the top’. I wonder sometimes if leaders who are so invested in the pursuit of the ‘top’ position, enjoy the journey? I wonder if as we get closer to our promised outcome, whether we hunker down, focus in, and perhaps miss some of the beauty that’s in the journey – the vision and input from those around us, perhaps?

I am glad, as the awareness of the complexity of leadership increases, that we can have conversations about the journey – about what’s at stake – about where we want to end up – about what we may or may not be seeing as we rise to the top. Sometimes in the work I do, I notice that the stress of being at the top of the organization, can really challenge our leaders, as they seek to manage their skill set and the gifts of others. Creating space to look out ‘at the views’, so to speak, to notice not only the next step, but the wider vistas, will continue to give perspective that is crucial to both the leadership journey and it’s successes.