Take a Leadership Cue From Nature: Static

by | Mar 7, 2019 | Blog Series, Communication, Development, Leadership, Management, Reflection, Relationships, Self-awareness, Self-Care, Team |

This is the fifth installment in an eight-week series called Take a Leadership Cue From Nature, using naturally occurring phenomena from the world around to illustrate how—if we’re not careful—we can let circumstances undermine our leadership effectiveness.
Maybe that thing we’re sensing may not be so strange after all…

You know what static is: It’s that unexpected shock you get when you slide across your car seat in the winter and touch something metal. You see it when you come in from the cold, remove your cap and your hair stands up. You get it when you unintentionally shuffle your feet across the carpet then (gotta be careful here) touch your computer. The most frequent form of static is seen in the photo above: lightning.

Static is the build-up of excess electrons on the outside of an object as it rubs against another object. The excess electrons build up until there is a convenient path for them to travel to reach a neutral state. When that path is created the electrons move suddenly and violently: Shock.

Static comes from friction. It invisibly builds up then discharges in an instant, usually on whatever object is closest to you. It’s a nuisance, it’s frustrating and in some cases dangerous.

Friction in a team creates static, and rarely does it contribute to a team’s performance.

And Your Point Is…?

Static is also, in many cases, unnecessary and avoidable.

Friction in a team creates static, and rarely does it contribute to a team’s performance.

So What?

In a leadership context, there are numerous opportunities for friction since people are so different: from their values and ideas, to differences in personality and how they approach their work. But there are several ways to avoid static and the pain and frustration it brings.

In a leadership context, there are numerous opportunities for friction since people are so different.

Avoid Unnecessary Friction – Communicate. A lot; probably more than you feel the need to. And communicate at all levels, not just about business: Never underestimate the value of (purposeful) small talk.

Don’t Let Static Build Up – If friction has caused static to occur, find a way to discharge it quickly. Choose how and where you want sparks to occur. Find the source of the friction and resolve it before it turns into lightning.

Stay Grounded – In electrical circuitry, “ground” is the part of the circuit with the lowest potential for buildup of electrical charge. In most buildings it (literally) is an electrical connection to the earth, which allows for any excess electrons to make their way out of the circuit. Know what “grounds” you: Your principles, your values, your faith, etc. Always stay connected to that which keeps you stable and constant.

The Big Picture

Teams and organizations get sidetracked and distracted when static exists in large measure. Static almost never brings any value.

Always stay connected to that which keeps you stable and constant.

Your Next Step

What’s your “ground,” and how do you stay genuinely connected to it?

Want more leadership insights?
Check out: 

Taking the Lead - What Riding a Bike Can Teach You About Leadership

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