Everything grows or stagnates based on a leadership mindset.
Let me present the leadership challenge in terms of mountain climbing. Before a church team plans to climb a summit, they need to be clear about the vision. Leaders need to identify the mountain their team is trying to climb.
– Mount Everest is the highest peak in Asia.
– McKinley or Denali is the highest peak in North America.
– Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe.
– Mount Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica.
– Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America.
– Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa.
– Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak in Australia.
Kosciuszko is the easiest to climb in all aspects. Kilimanjaro is the next easiest to climb. Elbrus, Mount Vinson, and Aconcagua are similar in terms of overall difficulty. Denali (6,190 meters) and Everest (8,848 meters) are both challenging mountains. Everest is the hardest to climb since it’s the highest and technically more complex than any other mountain. Denali is the second hardest in terms of the overall problem.
They are all mountains, but they come with different levels of challenges. The summit defines the roadmap and helps the team prepare for the challenges. Leadership mindset, in the church context, enables us to determine the path to automation and optimization. A leadership mindset helps us to understand our shared goals.
We all want to experience the joy of climbing the summit. We, at times, fail to realize that the desire to climb any summit requires preparation. Ben Webster had planned the 2004 Mount Everest expedition for two years before he attempted to climb it. Ben raised half a million dollars to have someone reach the top of Mount Everest. He arranged for six tonnes of equipment, 3,000 pounds of food, 100 bottles of oxygen, 16,000 liters of fuel, and 1,500 meters of rope. Ben arranged for Nepalese park permits, yak caravans, lanterns, radio systems, planning for how and when to climb.
When a leader says, we are going for Mount Everest, the executive leadership should think of the administrative vision behind this mindset. If we climb Everest, the central support at the Base Camp needs 30 people. There are camp staffers, porters, runners, cooks, doctors, communication experts, and the Sherpa climbers. If the aim is to climb Mount Everest, we need to hire 16 of the best Sherpas, a member of a Himalayan people renowned for their skill in mountaineering. If the vision is to climb Kilimanjaro, these resources aren’t needed.
The roadmap to the summit is determined based on the mountain we are trying to climb. You will probably take the “normal route” to the top of Aconcagua and the “West Buttress” to the top of Denali. To climb Everest, you will probably take the “South Col Route” used successfully by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary on their first summit in 1953.
For executive leadership, understanding the leadership mindset is critical. According to the Himalayan Database, which maintains records of climbs, 5,789 people have reached Everest summit 10,184 times. Mount Everest is not kind. Since 1924, at least 311 people have died on both the Nepal and China side of the mountains. Some of them are buried in a deep crevasse. Over 100 climbers have died attempting to climb Denali.
Reaching a goal is not something that comes to us on a silver platter. There is a cost for any climb. For an individual climber, climbing Aconcagua costs $3,500. Climbing Denali costs $8,000. Everest costs $42,000 per person. It takes half a million dollars to organize an expedition to Mount Everest.
Four possible areas of improvement should be part of a leadership mindset as we consider what summit to climb.
- How can I offer a better experience?
- How can I increase revenue or attendance?
- How can I decrease costs?
- How can I manage risks better?
In the long run, everything rises and falls on the leadership mindset. You and your leadership team needs to embrace an automation mindset.