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Or to put it another way, see and manage the context, don't be sucked into the content. It takes practice but it is an essential leadership skill.

From Warren Bennis:

I tend to think of the differences between leaders and managers as the differences between those who master the context and those who surrender to it.

And from Heifitz and Linksy:

The ability to maintain perspective in the midst of action is critical. Any military officer knows the importance of maintaining the capacity for reflection, especially in the "fog of war." Great athletes must simultaneously play the game and observe it as a whole. We call this skill "getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony," an image that captures the mental activity of stepping back from the action and asking, "What's really going on here?" But taking a balcony perspective is extremely tough to do when you're fiercely engaged down below, being pushed and pulled by the events and people around you—and doing some pushing and pulling of your own. You'll also need to observe your own actions; seeing yourself objectively as you look down from the balcony is perhaps the hardest task of all.

One final, yet compelling, note on our findings about Level 5 leaders: they want to see their companies become even more successful in the next generation, comfortable with the idea that most people won't even know that the roots of that success trace back to them. One Level 5 CEO said, "I want to look from my porch, see the company as one of the great companies in the world someday, and be able to say, 'I used to work there.' " By contrast, Level 4 leaders often fail to set up the company for enduring success – after all, what better testament to your own personal greatness than that the place falls apart after you leave?
Jim Collins Close