Thriving in high-stakes roles: wisdom from Flying Without a Net

There’s a common misconception that leaders need to be invincible. But what happens when you’re not?

Does it mean you’re a poor leader, or could it be that you’ve progressed to a higher level?

Thomas J. DeLong explores the challenges and demands leaders in high-pressure roles face in Flying Without a Net, and provides a series of strategies to help them grow and thrive – professionally and personally.

The top five lessons are:

  1. Embrace vulnerability and authenticity: Leaders often feel the pressure to project an image of strength and invulnerability. However, DeLong argues that embracing vulnerability and authenticity can be powerful leadership tools. By being honest about their limitations and open about their emotions, leaders can build trust, connect with their teams on a deeper level, and foster a culture of psychological safety.
  2. Develop a support network: Flying without a net refers to the feeling of being alone and without a safety net in high-stakes leadership positions. DeLong emphasizes the importance of building a strong support network, both within and outside of the organization. Having trusted mentors, peers, and friends who can offer guidance, feedback, and a sounding board can provide invaluable support during challenging times.
  3. Prioritise self-care: High-pressure roles can lead to burnout and neglect of personal well-being. DeLong emphasizes the need for leaders to prioritize self-care to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health. This includes setting boundaries, practicing stress management techniques, maintaining healthy relationships, and engaging in activities that bring joy and rejuvenation.
  4. Continuously learn and adapt: Effective leaders are lifelong learners. DeLong encourages leaders to adopt a growth mindset and actively seek out opportunities for personal and professional development. This includes seeking feedback, taking on new challenges, embracing change, and staying curious. By continuously learning and adapting, leaders can enhance their skills, broaden their perspectives, and stay ahead in a rapidly changing business landscape.
  5. Foster a culture of learning and growth: Leaders play a crucial role in shaping the culture of their organisations. DeLong highlights the importance of creating a culture that encourages learning, growth, and innovation. This involves promoting psychological safety, encouraging open communication, rewarding risk-taking and learning from failures, and providing opportunities for professional development. By fostering a culture of learning, leaders can empower their teams to take risks, share ideas, and continuously improve.

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