On July 25, Carol and I were spending time with her brother, Mark and his family. We had attended a niece's wedding in Big Sky, Montana and had built some horse fences. When the fence was completed, we headed for Red Lodge, Montana in the Beartooth Mountains. Red Lodge is a pretty little tourist town a couple hours southwest of Billings close to the Wyoming border. A couple of times we enjoyed a great restaurant called the Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen and Wine Bar and, of course, some shopping was to be had.
While in the area, Carol suggested we take a hike up a mountain. She grew up in Denver and has a deep love of western mountains. Mark suggested a place called the Beartrack Trail. The road to the trail snaked through a valley at the foot of some impressive peaks.
We stopped before we reached the trail to explore a nice path beside a little rushing stream in Rock Creek Canyon. Finally, we arrived at a parking lot at the base of a 10,000-foot peak. Initially, we climbed toward the Wapiti Mountains and then the trail ranged over meadows and small babbling streams eventually reaching a wooded pine forest. The path was well traveled and easy to maneuver. Mark was in the lead and Carol and I caught up with him occasionally.
For about an hour we continued at a steady pace stopping periodically to view the surrounding peaks of Mount Maurice and the Black Pyramid and Tolman Mountains. We continued on toward Silver Run Plateau, which reached 10,000 feet. The trail was thinner and above and below us were colluvial rock deposits.
I had hurt my back the day before with the fence construction and found myself straining to get a full breath. Carol and Mark allowed me to take the lead and when I looked up and then down several hundred feet of talus slopes, I got a little dizzy. I went a little farther and a little farther and then decided I had gone as far as I should.
We had climbed 2,000 feet of elevation to about 8,000 feet and Carol had gotten a taste of her mountains. The view was beautiful and gave us a very different perspective than the drive on the winding road at the bottom of the canyon.
All of the perspectives were amazing whether at the bottom, halfway up in the pine trees, or on the rocky slopes high in the sky. I was reminded that leaders should realize that they and their employees sometimes see the same event from different plains. Often, the perspectives are not right or wrong. They are just different. The more leaders understand this variety of perspectives, the more they can find ways to seek consensus. The first step to consensus is to try and understand where others are coming from and how they view their world. Leaders demonstrate respect by the attempt to understand others and the result is often reciprocal respect by the employees.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.