Play your Role at the Right Altitude

Do-manage-lead represents different altitudes or levels of engagement in your approach to work. Team leaders who are supervising others should abandon the do level — hands-on tasks — in favor of managing through the use of interpersonal skills, that is, developing others and themselves to get work done.  In this video, Erica Peitler explains the lead level focuses on prioritizing initiatives and allocating resources.

After viewing the video, answer a “Questions to Ask” and select an “Ideas for Action” to incorporate into your routine this week.

Ideas for Action

  • Explain the concept of “flying at the right altitude” to your team. Provide examples of the various altitude levels and then ask your team members to extend these examples or offer their own ideas. Talk individually with team members to make sure they know what altitude they should be aiming for on different work assignments.
  • If you find yourself at the doing level, when you should be managing, resist the temptation to do it all yourself. Learn to delegate certain tasks that you need to let go of. Identify these tasks by identifying those that are most repetitive or that your team members need to learn in order to move to the next level.
  • If you are a leader flying at high altitudes, make sure you don’t lose communication with the ground. Make time in your schedule to talk with front-line workers. In addition, consider also observing workers by working alongside them incognito or have someone you trust work on the front line as a trainee so that you can identify “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Questions to Ask

  • In your current role, which level of altitude do you find yourself most often? How would you describe your role? How will you switch altitudes as you switch roles?
  • What is the difference between working in the business and working on the business?
  • Do you feel that the managers and leaders you work with are playing appropriately at their altitudes?
  • Do you prefer to do, manage, or lead? Where is your natural inclination, and how does it affect your work?