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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


How to SOAR as You Lead

A couple of weeks ago, Growing Leaders (the organization I lead) hosted an all-day planning day for our Board of Directors. We enjoy a stellar group of leaders on our board, as years ago I learned the lesson from Andrew Carnegie to surround myself with executives who are far smarter than I am.

During our day, we began to reflect on the accomplishments of our first ten years. Growing Leaders was founded in 2003, and we’ve grown measurably over our first decade. On Friday—we looked at the next ten years. I asked the board:

  1. What do you envision happening in the next ten years?
  2. What are your greatest concerns for us in the next ten years?

I began to lead our board into a typical conversation about our SWOT:

  • S – Strengths
  • W – Weaknesses
  • O – Opportunities
  • T – Threats


As I began down this direction, Tami Heim, one of our board members, suggested we may be better served with another conversation. She humbly suggested SOAR:

  • S – Strengths
  • O – Opportunities
  • A – Aspirations
  • R – Results

Suddenly, everyone in the room was engaged. While I believe it’s wise to examine genuine “threats” as we lead organizations, people are drawn to questions like:

  • What do we aspire to accomplish in the future?
  • What outcomes (or results) do we hope to see?

I believe we must harness people’s aspirations if we have any hope of progress. If we teach students, we must help them harness their aspirations. If they don’t know “why” they are learning something they may never engage in the “what.” By looking at aspirations and results, both leaders and followers “soar.”

Information coupled with aspiration leads to inspiration. Thanks Tami!



  1. lbeachy on September 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    (Disconnect?) Tami Heim is not listed in the link to your Board members…

    • Jamie on September 21, 2013 at 6:16 am

      She is not listed on the Board of Advisors, she is on the Board of Directors if you scroll down the page.

  2. Marcus R. Sedberry on September 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    This is great Tim! Thank you for sharing!!

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How to SOAR as You Lead