Leadership Is (Part 3)

This is the third and final blog in a series about attributes of good leadership. You can read up on the first two descriptions of leadership (indigenous and inclusive) here and here

The last two descriptions live in tension with one another- I believe that good leadership is both inventive and intentional. Lets start with intentional. There is the theory called the Flywheel Theory that applies perfectly to this principle - imagine pushing a large flywheel through one rotation. Creating the first bit of momentum takes an immense amount of effort, and it takes a certain number of rotations to reach the point of inertia where the flywheel will spin itself. In leadership terms, it takes a long push in the same direction to create a functioning work culture that will eventually run itself. At first, this is extremely difficult, but as time goes on, once you establish a solid purpose and culture, the flywheel spins itself. 

I had an internship in college where I worked under a great leader who unfortunately lacked the understanding of long-term intentionality. Every quarter our organizational priorities seemed to shift- there was no hard work being done to steer the flywheel in the same direction to create inertia. It only took me a few months as an intern to see how damaging this lack of intentionality was on the team. As goals shifted and strategies changed, the staff eventually became disengaged and embittered because of the lack of consistency. 

Under the umbrella of a long term intentionality, though, leaders have to be inventive and willing to hold specifics loosely. I wrote a post about this principle earlier this year based on a great podcast episode by Andy Stanley.  If you are willing to walk the tension between long term intentionality and inventiveness, I think there is an incredible sweet spot where a team will thrive.