Week 30 - Leadership Ladders

Posted by J. Clay Norton on 4/7/2017 8:00:00 AM

"A smart man only believes half of what he hears, a wise man knows which half." - Jeff Cooper
This is one of the best post I have come across in a while.  The post is by John Mertz and the website is:  https://www.thindifference.com/2017/03/four-essential-leadership-ladders/?utm_content=buffer317fd&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
I am pretty sure each of us have access to a ladder.  It's one of those items that we only use when we need to and it sure comes in handy when we do.  But, do we ever really think about what a ladder enables us to do besides just climb up?  The four areas spoken about are essential for each of us as leaders to keep our leadership defined.  If one of the areas begins to weaken, it often times will effect one of the other areas as well.  Family and Personal are listed first.  Not sure if this was intentional but I believe these two are the most important.  We can hide a lot of stuff from the public, but cannot hide it from our family members nor ourselves.  The Organizational and Community areas are important as well.  This is where we get to see our leadership effect in others.  
If there is one take-a-way from the entire post, it is this statement:  We are in a season of discontent and bad leadership examples.  We need to shift to a builder's mindset.  More than our attitude, we need to get to work in building more leadership ladders.  
Let's make sure we continue to build for others and not ourselves.
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Four Essential Leadership Ladders

By March 30, 2017Leadership

leadership laddersLadders enable. We climb to gain a better view. When climbing a ladder, we reach to adjust or fix something. Ladders raise us up with each step up.


Leadership ladders empower in similar ways. Leadership ladders:

  • Deliver a more expansive view, offering context in the matters at hand
  • Challenge us to step up to the task confronting us
  • Provide a platform to adjust ourselves and prepare to fix and refresh


If we are not developing the right leadership ladders in our work and life, we begin to slip and slide in directions that take us off course. We need certain leadership ladders in our life work.


With leadership ladders, there is a catch, and it is this – it is not about yours. Leadership ladders are mostly what you build for others.


Essential Leadership Ladders


Building leadership ladders take place in four areas. Each are important to raise up many vital elements of life and work.




Building leadership ladders is essential in family life. Key questions in building the right ladder include:

  • What does my partner in life want to achieve?
  • What do my kids want to pursue, and what will give them the experience to set a good path?
  • As my parents age, what do they want to do and experience?


Building ladders is not about carrying others. We can provide a safety net if needed, but finding ways to challenge, guide, lift, and share is how we build ladders for others in our family.




We do need to build our own ladder, too. If we are going to help others in achieving the best out of themselves, then we need to do the same for ourselves. We need to find ways to:

  • Challenge ourselves in our mindset, passion, and health
  • Learn more about areas of interest and then find new areas of interest to expand our outlook
  • Refresh our spiritual, career, family, and community center, especially since we lead from within and then keep humble by the outward work we do
  • Step up to protect others or raise a call to act in a better way



Wherever we work, we need to build leadership ladders. We do not have to lead a team or department to build rungs up. Through our collaborative efforts, we can help others find their step or build new steps up. Organizations become an unengaged mess, so we need to find ways to leave the place better than before.


Within organizational ladders, a personal responsibility exists. We need to:

  • Mentor more than tell
  • Listen abundantly to understand with depth
  • Engage younger generations and learn from them
  • Encourage individuals to step up and then support them if they misstep
  • Open more windows of opportunities than close doors to new experiences and initiatives
  • Hold accountable with compassion and honesty


Imagine an organization with ladder builders!




Too often, we ignore our community until we are older. More than serving on boards, we need to gather neighbors and do the work to lift up those who need a helping hand. More than giving dollars, we need to guide and get our hands dirty in building the bridges within our communities.


Some questions we should ask:

  • Where are the gaps within my community that need to be closed?
  • How can my efforts have an impact in the place I live and work?
  • What community initiative resonates most within my soul?
  • How can I work toward building rungs up for those needing a better outlook and opportunity?


Finding the alignment between where help is needed and what sparks my soul creates the right rhythm. Unfortunately, many areas of a community need help, and we cannot do it all. However, we can never be overwhelmed by what is needed. We cannot underwhelm with our efforts. Instead, we build the ladders where our talents and spirit guide us in the areas that matter.


Our Responsibility: Build Leadership Ladders


Each of us is a builder if we choose so. We are carpenters of our family, self, organization, and community. If we are not building and constructing, we are missing opportunities to make ourselves and others better.


We are in a season of discontent and bad leadership examples. We need to shift to a builder’s mindset. More than our attitude, we need to get to work in building more leadership ladders.


What other ladders do we need to build? What helps spark our builder work and mindset?


Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.