“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.”

— Winston Churchill

Leadership isn’t just inspiration, it is also the ability to get things done. We’ve met many leaders, young and old, who have wonderful ideas (they can see the mountain tops), but they have no idea how to turn those ideas into reality (walking through the valley).

When we work with leaders, we are always asking them to keep an eye on the mountaintops that will inspire their teams but to never lose sight of the fact that in order to get to the mountain tops you have to be able to endure the long valleys that lie between them.

Strategic planning is the tool that we use to help executive teams successfully define the mountaintops and move forward through the valleys. The approach that we use has been profoundly helpful in large organizations and in small ones (and even to a couple of dear friends trying to make a change in their life!).

Once the group has defined the Vision (the mountaintop), we ask them to define the Obstacles that are keeping them from living that vision right now. If you could simply live the vision, you wouldn’t need a plan. But most visions worth reaching involve working around the many obstacles that are in the way.

With those obstacles clearly identified, we help them to create strategic directions or the strategic focus that will lead them through the valleys (and around the obstacles) and get them closer to their vision.

Lack of vision is seldom the problem when we consult with organizations. The lack of clarity about how to enact that vision is the problem, and it is keeping good companies from becoming great. Time and talent is wasted when leaders just talk about the mountaintops and fail to create ways for their teams to get there successfully.

This week, we encourage you to think about the mountaintops in your life and whether you have a plan to get through the valleys.

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