Take a Leadership Cue From Nature: Destructive Resonance

by | Mar 1, 2019 | Blog Series, Development, Leadership, Management, Reflection, Self-awareness, Self-Care

This is the fourth 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…

Mechanical resonance happens when a structure is vibrated at a frequency that (based on its design features) it is unable to absorb. The vibration causes the structure to oscillate, and each successive displacement increases in magnitude until the structure won’t hold together. 

It is how opera singers shatter wine glasses with their voice.

A classic example is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The suspension bridge design didn’t account for the vibration induced from the turbulence that was created by the canyon winds as they passed over the bridge. On November 7, 1940, the wind was constant enough for just the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) amount of time that it created a resonant frequency. The bridge began swaying uncontrollably and finally shook itself apart and collapsed into the river below.

Life and leadership will expose you to conditions which, unique to you, will create physical, psychological, emotional and (for persons of faith) spiritual destructive resonance. When it occurs, while we may not fly apart like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, our integrity at some level will be severely compromised.

And Your Point Is…?

You must know your resonant frequencies—and more importantly the conditions that produce them—and proactively avoid them.

So What?

All of us have a resonance frequency: A level of stimuli that we can’t naturally absorb. It’s absolutely normal and is in no way a point of weakness or incapability.

Life and leadership will expose you to conditions which, unique to you, will create physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual destructive resonance.

There are several things to consider:

  • The conditions that cause resonance
  • The constancy of those conditions
  • Your unique “design”

A simple example of resonance frequency for me comes from a lack of time for reflection. Without time to process the things I experience and observe, I get into reactionary, tunnel vision mode and eventually experience unusually high levels of stress and anxiety. Another (probably more common) is lack of sleep and poor nutrition, which causes similar outcomes.

If I don’t avoid these conditions, the result of my leadership and interaction is very poor performance—not to mention I’m not a very nice person to be around.

All of us have a resonance frequency: A level of stimuli that we can’t naturally absorb.

The Big Picture

As leaders, we should be aware not only of conditions that cause our destructive resonance, but also be on the watch for the same in those we lead. Each person’s frequency will be unique, so you must know them well enough personally to help them.

We should be aware not only of conditions that cause our destructive resonance, but also be on the watch for the same in those we lead.

Your Next Step

As you think back to times you’ve “fallen apart,” what conditions (that could have been avoided) contributed to it?

Want more leadership insights?
Check out: 

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