Harnessing Resources for Your Flight into the Future

Fascination with flight is a universal human trait. As a pilot and a business executive, I have spent many hours in the air, and countless hours in the cockpit – in either the left seat or the right seat. One of the aircraft that I often flew in was a cabin-class business turboprop that was so efficient in flight that one revolution of its propellers translated into 12 feet of forward motion.

CEO development lies at the heart of my practice. In any human endeavor, leadership is the means by which a business propels itself forward. CEO development lies at the heart of effective business leadership. 

I like to illustrate the CEO development process with an example from the realm of flight – the constant-speed propeller. Imagine a propeller with three blades, if you will: One blade is the workforce, one blade is the leadership team, and one blade is the CEO.

An ordinary fixed-pitch propeller is not very efficient in converting an aircraft engine’s power into thrust to propel the aircraft forward. Fixed-pitch propellers can have efficiencies as low as 50% at times. With a constant-speed propeller, gearing in the hub of the propeller and controls in the cockpit allow the pitch of the blades to be continually adjusted. This enables optimal performance during takeoff, climb, cruise, descent … and emergencies. Constant-speed propellers can achieve efficiencies as high as 85% – converting 85% of the power plant horsepower into forward thrust … propelling the aircraft and its passengers into the future.

How efficient is the typical business organization in converting its resources into thrust to propel the enterprise into the future? Is the CEO able to continually adjust the pitch of the three blades – workforce, leadership team, and CEO – to optimize thrust?

A closely related question to the core question – “How efficient is the typical business organization in converting its resources into thrust?” – is “What are those resources that create thrust?”

Quite simply, the horsepower to move an organization forward comes from its talent, its focus, its energy, its time, its opportunities, its processes, its creativity and ability to innovate, as well as its financial resources. Harnessing and optimizing those resources is the critical role of leadership … and that is why continual learning at the highest levels of the organization – combined with effective CEO development – is so absolutely necessary to long-term organizational success.

Here is the catch: Most “business propellers” are probably operating at 50% efficiency – or less – when they could be achieving 85% efficiency.  And here is the challenge.  Many business executives engage in a subtle self-deception caused by isolation and insulation


So, let’s cut through the bubble of isolation and insulation that surrounds executives by asking some hard questions:

 How effective are you at propelling yourself and your business into the future?

  • How effective are you personally in harnessing your resources and converting them into thrust?
    • In personal development?
    • In your professional life?
    • In business development?

A final thought: The thorough self-reflection, careful preflight planning, and deliberate personal action that results from executive coaching will effectively harness your resources to propel you and your business into the future.


Copyright ©2014 by Executive Management Systems, Inc.


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