The Balcony

People are always quoting Ronald Heifetz’s maxim about “the balcony,” how leaders need to devote time regularly to take a comprehensive view of their work and the relation of all its component parts. This is in contrast to the day-to-day demands of being down on “the dance floor.”

Here’s a good way to do that. Ask someone who knows nothing about your work to allow you to explain it to them in 30 minutes. Buy them a coffee. If this feels weird, consider the opportunities you may already have to do this, like when a new person joins the staff or a new colleague moves to town.

How you present everything in that time will be revealing: what do you explain first? What do you spend the most time on? What do you forget to mention at all?

I’ve always understood this “balcony” metaphor in solitary terms. It doesn’t need to be.

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