Fly Right

True, caring leaders fly right. Phillip Kane
Iron Mountain, MI

May 15, 2009

This week I travelled to Iron Mountain, Michigan in the state’s Upper Peninsula for the 100 year anniversary of Eureka Tire. 

One of the principal features of Iron Mountain as well as of the history of the Wedin family, owners of Eureka Tire, is the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. 

At 176 feet tall, the Pine Mountain jump is one of only a handful of K120 jumps in the United States and is among the highest jumps in the world. K120 denotes the distance of the critical landing point in meters.  Jumpers leave the end of a K120 jump at speeds in excess of 55 mph, landing more than 400 feet down the hill. 

While distance is the principal scoring factor in ski jumping, a jumper’s final score is also determined by style points. It is very possible for a jumper with the greatest distance to lose to one with less distance but better form. 

As I stood at the top of the jump contemplating the difficulty of not only flying to the bottom, but flying right, it occurred to me that life is a lot like ski jumping. 

How we conduct ourselves in our daily work is as important as what we achieve.  Put another way: how we win is just as important as winning. 

That’s the point for the week. 

Selling the most, like jumping the farthest, is important only insofar as it’s done correctly.  Exceeding our EBITDA target matters only if we do the right things to beat our number.  Excelling at anything in life, whether here, at home, or in our communities, makes a difference only if we play by the rules along the way. 

It is no coincidence that our performance management process equally weighs results and behaviors.  They are equally important. 

Achieving the wider goals of our company requires that each of us is aligned not only around our numerical objectives but also around the means of achieving them, with complete commitment to winning the right way.  I’d rather lose, than win the wrong way.

When every one of us focuses on winning the right way, we will almost assuredly win more often, because more of us will be focused on the right, same behaviors for winning and just as importantly, we’ll waste less time cleaning up the messes that always result from doing things the wrong way.

So, focus on “style” points.

Fly right. 

And win.

If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK. “Letters” is based on 85 story-backed lessons Phillip used while leading actual teams to accomplish extraordinary things. It is an outstanding resource for those who wish to commit to becoming the sort of leader that people WANT to follow.

To learn more about Phillip, please click HERE.