Created by Juliane Wiktorin

#favouritemodel No. 4 - Helicopter Perspective

Symbolically, it is a change of perspective in order to look at one's own behaviour from a far and with the distance gained to reflect on it.

The model illustrates in a simple way the competence of leaders as well as whole teams to actively and consciously step out of current events and to look at processes, patterns and problems from a higher level of observation. This positive attitude towards meta-reflection uncovers helpful and hindering interaction patterns. And we´ve all been there:

In a meeting with many participants, the group repeatedly gets lost in details, participants are bored, annoyed, others are engaged. The conversation takes on a life of its own: comments in voiceover, messages become confusing, everyone reacts to what has been previously said, and the goal gets lost.

Or: Information gaps repeatedly arise in project work. There is a discussion about the obligation to deliver oder to collect? In retrospect, no one realized at what time the central theme was lost.

If in such situations you as a leader use the helicopter for self-reflection, your current leadership behaviour is the focus of your own observation. In the case of a joint reflection as a team, you consciously take time to share your observations and ask yourselves specifically "How are we experiencing our communication at the moment?", "What exactly is helpful about our communication, what is hindering?" "What is going well right now?", "What is not going so well?", "What do I have to change, or do we have to change, so that it is more in line with what was our objective?".

The essence of this model is that the helicopter flight becomes systematically integrated into your daily work as a routine and that you as a leader or you as a team regularly allow yourselves a view from afar  of  your actions, your communication and your cooperation.

The main challenge in using the helicopter perspective is not the flight itself, but identifying the moment when it is helpful to take this kind of "mindful time out". Often we are so caught up in what is happening that it is difficult for us to step out of it because it does not occur to us. 

It takes practice to regularly integrate the helicopter perspective into everyday life as a leader and team. It also requires a bit of courage to interrupt oneself and others in a momentary flow and to point out that it makes sense to take some time here and now to take a look at things from afar.

How does my #favouritemodel help you?

If you notice in a conversation, meeting or longer course of a project that something is not going smoothly, you find yourself or the team going round in circles, the same topics and problems keep coming up, then it is worth putting the current issues aside for a moment. Ask yourself:  How does the current situation appear to you? What is going well? What is not going so well?

To make it easier for you to think about the helicopter perspective and to use it actively, the following things might help you, especially in the beginning:

Think of a symbol - This can be an object or another tool that reminds you of the helicopter perspective.

Make the symbol visible - Place it as a "reminder" in a clearly visible place, e.g. in the middle of the room or stick it on the wall or the edge of the screen in online meetings.

Designate one person to take on the role of the helicopter perspective during the process. At fixed times or in certain situations, this person will share observations about the process. Together you decide how to proceed.


#favouritemodels No. 29 - Virtual Collaboration: The fact that trust and the quality of relationships have a decisive influence on teamwork is something that most people have probably known for a…
Read more

#favouritemodels No.20 - House of Change - Renewal: Finally, having gone through the "Room of Confusion", people emotionally reach the "Room of Renewal".
Read more

#favouritemodel No.17 - House of Change - Contentment: The "House of Change" is one of our #favouritemodels that we use to accompany change processes and support leaders in creating a framework for action…
Read more

How mixed teams can work together: We want to build bridges in our projects so that everyone can share in the success of a project - bridges between people from different cultures and…
Read more