Is Your Leadership Blind Spot Keeping You Stuck?

Last week I made a new friend—Tom Voccola, author of The Accidental CEO. Tom took something I’ve talked about for 20 years and put it in context with a picture—a pyramid with six levels. I’ll describe it for you.

At the bottom of the pyramid is the environment—tools, training, and benefits. These things are important, but they are miniscule in the big picture of running a high performing organization. Unfortunately, most organizations spend over 80 percent of their time here and never move up the hierarchical pyramid to where the power lies.

Moving up one level, we come to behaviors. Getting people to live by customer service standards and follow procedures is higher up the pyramid and more important. Good stuff, but still not the magic.

Next comes capability—getting the right people in place. Valuable, but still below the key line of breakthrough.

Above the midline, the magic begins to happen, starting with alignment of team members’ beliefs. “Why are we infinitely better than the competition?” and “What is the honor code that we live by?” are among the questions that clarify beliefs, making that alignment possible. They represent the first steps into powerful territory.

Next is the category of leading, transforming, and inspiring—getting your people to grow and play full on. Now we’ve got some real magic happening.

So what’s at the top of the pyramid, where the very top performers live? That’s the territory of purpose and passion. The juice. The high-octane operating system that makes miracles and breakthroughs part of daily language.

Those who are waiting for the things to go back to “normal” may not realize that staying stuck in the bottom sixth of the pyramid puts their future in question. By-the-book “management” is old school. It doesn’t work.

So what will be your first step to move up the pyramid?

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