The Altitudes of Leadership

The leadership altitudes are critically significant to the organization’s business growth. The main challenge is not how high a leader can go but how the leader can seamlessly move between three distinct altitudes of leadership thinking.

By Emile Fakhoury
The three critical leadership altitudes are 50,000 feet, 50 feet, and 5 feet. Highly effective leaders develop the capacity to “move” their thinking at all three altitudes. They travel up and down quickly, making the connections between all the altitudes.

Each level generates crucial leadership insights, as each altitude is clearly different.

Leadership Altitudes
Leaders can see the big picture at 50,000 feet – the maximum altitude for commercial aircraft. They envisage the possibility of disruption and connect the outside in and coming back; they are great at client and stakeholders’ management, market insight, innovation, and competitiveness.

Leaders at this level will encourage large-scale transformation and innovation.”. Execution happens at 50 feet, the tactical level close to the ground.

At this altitude, leaders implement an adequate vision for strategy and operation. They are excellent at execution, planning operations, and implementation. The ability to think at 5 feet is self-awareness.

Leaders need to be profoundly self-aware and manage micro details while they connect healthy to the tactical level of 50 feet and then later to the high level of 50,000 feet. Leaders who can use all the altitudes and combine complex mindsets are incredible great leaders who can drive organizations and communities to another level of evolution.

Many leaders connect all three altitudes. These leaders can easily link big-strategy choices with day-to-day operations n while maintaining a healthy sense of self-awareness.

Altitude thickness
However, we face reality and, in many cases, the sickness of altitudes at different levels. At 50,000 feet leadership level, we found leaders stuck, over dreamers, with visions that keep changing,g and get nothing done.

At 50 feet leadership level, some leaders remain trapped at this level, unable to further empower their team and develop their leadership style. Also, at 5 feet leadership level, the leaders are often selfish, thinking about themselves, micro managers, and get stuck on their short-term goals.

Best advice
The best advice remains to practice your altitude each week. Set your mindset to be flexible and work across various levels of leadership to move from the big picture to the tactical and then to the small circle.

Practice execution, implementation, and best practices (50 feet leadership altitude) while also reflecting on who you are, what you are doing, and why you are doing it (5 feet leadership altitude).

Getting into coaching, you can read my article How to be a good coach? | The Levant News ( and start doing self-reflection exercises and avoid altitude sickness.

Emile Fakhoury

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