|Image Courtesy: Flickr|
What has basic Physics got to do with leadership and parenting?
Two words, very distinct in their meaning, are sometimes, albeit wrongly, used interchangeably. They are speed and velocity.
How are they different? Both represent motion but only one seems to lead us anywhere.
In Physics, the difference between the 2 words is the same as scalar and vector values. A vector value has an additional component of direction along with that of magnitude. So, velocity doesn't just tell us what speed we are moving at, it also tells us what direction we are moving in.
That is very helpful information indeed. As leaders we ask our team and ourselves to provide exceptional service. As parents, we are in the mode of continuous growth - both while helping our kids grow and as we grow to be better role models for them. That depicts motion.
Without, however, laying down our expectations from our team, and our children, as completely and clearly as can be (direction of movement) we continue to live and lead in a scalar mode.
Take for example a car which accelerates in place really fast or moves haphazardly. It might be fun for a while but it will be just a matter of time before the car runs out of gas, the tires go flat and the car becomes generally unusable.
Then there is the other car. With or without a lot of power and acceleration, it does move in the direction that the passengers need to go towards. The power, coupled with direction, serves a purpose. Yes, power and speed help, a lot sometimes, but movement in a specific direction assumes a much more important role. Even while moving slow, it still moves in the right direction.
I have seen managers and parents say "I hope my team/ child gets better at X" (whatever X is - collaboration or counting, for example). Without defining the "X" all we are asking for is a powerful car which runs in place and does not go anywhere. It becomes the responsibility of the driver, the parent and the leader to change the oil, to refill the gas, make sure all tires are working at capacity and are well aligned and, most importantly, to provide direction.
Difference between scalar and vector leadership is like telling someone to run at 5 miles/hour for 30 seconds to get to a pot of gold versus telling them that they need to do that by running in the north direction. I think the latter would be a bit easier with a higher possibility of success.
Which leadership style do you practice? Do you find it easier to provide direction?
PS: I apologize for the amateur art. Definitely not one of my skills!