Helicopter Leadership

Guest
post from Stephen Klemich:
It
is often asked, what is the difference between Leadership and Management? For
over 30 years we have always referred to Leadership as being able to rise above
the situation, be objective, strategic and find time to contemplate the
culture, people and one’s leadership impact. Management is on-the-ground,
day-to-day task orientated, checking quality and delivery of the product and
service, and looking after the people. Character-led leaders; heart-led leaders
do both. It’s what we refer to as helicopter leadership. 
One
of our clients in Australia has used a helicopter to get from site-to-site and
I have been fortunate to fly with him many times all over Sydney – a stunning
way to work! Helicopters are so maneuverable, being able to land almost
anywhere, and rise above the exact position to hover over the site. When flying,
we talk about the entire business, then each site, what it might need, how the
people are managing it, and who we can encourage or recognize for great work.
When we land at the site, as we shut down the engine while the headsets are
still on, I remind the leader his role is not to look for all the things that
could be better (even though there will always be something). His role is to be
a culture builder, not a culture buster. He’s to look for the good, recognize
excellence and ask questions. If there are a few things that need attention,
wait until he is with the management team in private to ask his questions. This
is how we came up with the idea of helicopter leadership. 
 
The
great leaders we have watched build great cultures and organizations have been
aware that the language of business is money: no money, no business. They
understand that strategy, structure, systems, and results are extremely
important, but they are also aware that their role is beyond the task, beyond the money. They
are deeply aware of what underpins the sustainable results. They understand
it’s culture.
 
These
leaders know their leadership shadow is communicating a certain energy and has
the ability to change the atmosphere of the workplace. They focus on ensuring
their intentions
come across with a positive impression
to others, making their impact
a positive one on the world around them. They know if they can create a safe
place of we’re all in it together,
then people want to belong, then they can believe and thus behave in a way that
adds value to the culture. These leaders ask themselves, “why and so what”—why
are we doing this and so what if we stay the same or change?
 
They
practice helicopter leadership, where they continually rise above the
day-to-day and hover, looking over the business and seeing where they can land
and assist. In their “helicopter time,” they can carry big loads of problems
that need to be addressed, but they also know if the load is too large and too
heavy there will be a crash. They lighten the load through effective delegation
with an effective management team who are all prepared to model effective
behaviors such as authentic, achieving and reliable task-driven behavior and
encouraging and developing people-driven behaviors.
 
These
leaders understand the “beyonds.” In business we are often tempted to trade
purpose for profit, but courageous leaders go beyond to create heart
engagement . . . purpose beyond
profit, meaning beyond
money, commitment beyond
convenience, destiny beyond
the daily, to unlock in their peoples’ passion beyond pay, service beyond self, identity beyond individualism.
 
The
heroes of great culture are great leaders, and we have been privileged to work
with many that we honor. They have made our job easy!
Stephen Klemich is a longtime leadership
consultant, speaker, and CEO and founder of Heartstyles and the author of Above
the Line
. Stephen has worked with teams across the globe, from small
companies to multinational corporations such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell,
Unilever, AMEX, and PwC. Stephen is an avid mountain climber and guide who has
summitted the Matterhorn, Mount Blanc, Mt Rosa, Eiger, Monch and Jungrfau, in
addition to other peaks in the Himalayas and New Zealand. In 2019 he climbed 6
peaks in the Italian Alps. He has always viewed mountaineering as an important
part of his own character development journey, and he has incorporated lessons
he has learned in the mountains into many of the Heartstyles programs.