How’s Your Attitude Indicator?

The attitude indicator on an airplane is very important. It informs the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to the horizon, so it must be correct at all times regardless of the plane's movements. Not to freak anybody out, but if a plane continually turns on autopilot, it may end up doing what pilots call the “graveyard spiral.” This means flight instruments wouldn't be able to distinguish between a “normal” gradual turn and steeper movements, thus requiring an attitude check.

And so it is with us:

·       Are we aware of what our attitude indicators are?

·       Have we checked our attitude indicator recently?

·       Are we checking our attitude indicator periodically?

·       How are our attitude indicators kept from drifting?

·       Are we continuously on Auto-Pilot?

The answers to the questions above go a long way to determining our personal and profession flight path. We have heard it said that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. This means turning off our personal auto-pilot about what we thought we knew and getting leveled in an accurate way.

At Voltage Leadership, we sometimes hear of an issue with a leader or a staff member. It often sounds like this, “What’s the issue? They are difficult. What does that mean? They have a bad attitude. How do I fix their attitude?”

Here are some tips and tools to help level out attitudes: (our own and others)   

·       Install or update personal Attitude Indicator 2.0

·       Take responsibility for Piloting our own craft

·       Focus on arriving in one piece vs being “right”

·       Devise and communicate an excellent Flight Plan

·       Treat Flight Path Corrections as valuable learning experiences

·       Manage personal Energy in addition to Time to keep Level

·       Remove any Schadenfreude from the Auto-Pilot

·       Take time to compliment the Flight Crew

·       Enjoy the ride with an Attitude of Gratitude

For a deeper dive into how to help establish and foster contagious positive attitudes at your organization, check out this episode of the VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.


I recently moved into a new home.  You notice a lot of things about a home once you buy it and move in that you never noticed before.  There are cracks in the ceiling, leaky pipes, broken glass, and loose floorboards.  Most of these things are not important. They are cosmetic.

What does matter is the foundation.  Is it solid?

The people who previously owned this home did not spend time in their basement.  It was obvious when we walked through the house before buying: the interior was pristine.  The basement was a mess.

The first thing my husband and I did to our new house was to clean and repair the basement.  We addressed the cracks we found down there:  problems that no one would ever see but which were, ultimately, important.  A house needs a strong foundation and so we started in the basement and worked our way up.

The same rational applies to organizations.

Is the foundation solid?  When issues arise, and they will, do those issues get traced back to their source and addressed at a systemic level, or is your organization a series of patchwork fixes?

Here is one easy way to check and see if you have a foundational problem or a cosmetic problem:  does it recur?

Recurring problems indicate there is something flawed in the system itself.  It may be that the processes and procedures have not kept up with the times, and a new way of doing business that relates to the current contest is necessary.  It may be that the size and scale of the business has changed, but the system is still functioning as it once did.  In this case, the issue is two-fold:  the organization does not have a habit of planning for growth and, therefore, does not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with changing demands.

Take some time to do a walk-through of your current business.  Don’t be distracted by the cracks in the ceiling.  Look instead for the deeper foundational issues that are facing the organization.

Competition, a changing business climate, a dated organizational structure, leadership habits that so not speak to the current generation:  where are the flaws in your foundation?  It is of much greater importance to investigate and invest in those deeper issues:  they are what will deliver you long term success and vitality. 

Fix the foundation!  It will be worth the effort and investment and, ultimately, you will have fewer cracks in the ceiling!