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Leadership and Newton’s First Law of Motion
September 26, 2011
Applying Laws of Physics to leadership? What am I thinking? Well, Bro. Carl, my high school physics teacher would be proud or maybe impressed that I remember any of my physics.
Newton’s First Law of Motion reads: “An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an outside force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force.” This law is often called "the law of inertia.”
Often organizations can suffer from a kind of group “inertia.” They can be stuck in a mental rut with “that is the way we have always done things” thinking or “this is the way it is and it can’t be changed” thinking. And just as Newton tells us, to get them energized or moving in the right direction we need an outside force to get them moving in the right direction. Effective leaders are often that outside force.
In like manner, organization can also suffer from a feeling of spinning out of control or experiencing a lot of movement, but going nowhere—or worse, moving in a direction of consistent failure. Again, we turn to Newton—a body in motion remains in motion in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force. Effective leaders are often that outside force.
Leaders can act as a catalyst for change. To be successful leaders:
- Need to have a vision of what they want their organization to look like and do
- Need to build relationships so staff can and do trust them
- Need to create environment where staff can share knowledge
- Need to “connect the dots” for the different members of their organization so everyone can have an appreciation for the big picture
The passion and actions of leaders can provide the outside force needed to make positive changes within an organization and create a movement toward excellence.