The Oxygen Mask Rule

The Oxygen Mask Rule

You must first help yourself, as instructed by the airlines, before you can help anyone else. When you are part of a leadership team, it is critical that you and your executive team members decide how you are going to help yourselves before you jump in to help others. Executives are confronted from day one with a multitude of problems to solve and opportunities to address. Everyone wants something from senior leaders; this is where many executive teams make the mistake of jumping into their company’s business issues too deeply at the beginning of their team’s evolution.

This fast start often means a fractional start because leadership teams do not spend enough time, nor create the right structures for their team to perform at their best. Moreover, once they surround themselves with company issues, they have little time, patience or energy to address the practices required to become a high performance executive team.

What does it mean to follow the oxygen mask rule in your leadership team?

For starters, in means discussions, teamwork and decisions on the following questions:

  • What is our team purpose?
  • How would we describe the unique contribution we bring to the organization, as a leadership team?
  • Have we shared our best team practices and created a team charter or a set of guidelines that holds our team to a high standard of excellence?

In times like these, it is essential to follow the oxygen mask rule personally as well. It is important to take care of yourself before you can help others – this does not mean in a selfish or greedy way, rather in a healthy way. Taking ownership of the oxygen mask rule means you help yourself so that you can help others.


Photo by Dan Norenberg, Executive Ownershift, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

Dan Norenberg
Wensauerplatz 11
81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.