For Every Action there is a Reaction

Awhile back I posted a blog What High School Physics Taught me about Leadership.

This time the focus is on the third law—the simple rendition is for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I remember one of the questions asked in our physic class was “How does Superman fly?” One explanation that was offered was that he jumped. Bro. Carl, my physics teacher, used the third law to explain why this could not be the case. If Superman could fly because of powerful legs and jumping, then using the third law, the building or ground under him would have to buckle to some degree. In other words, there would be an equal reaction or impact directed downward that would propel Superman upward.

Leaders need to be sensitive to the same principle. For every decision leaders make, there is a reaction somewhere in their organization. Raise the salary of new incoming staff, current staff will be upset that these newcomers are making almost the same amount of money in much less time. Introduce new strategies or policies and some staff with complain that this new approach is just another in a long line of changes that are not necessary. Say hello to one group of workers and another group feels they are being ignored.

So what is a leader to do?

Develop a thoughtful approach: Half the battle is realizing the impact your actions and decisions have on the people you lead. Think out how you are going to introduce new ideas. Think about the different response people can have and what approach will maintain the integrity of your approach while at the same time deliver the clearest and most unambiguous message to your staff.

Communicate: Take the time and effort to not only communicate with your staff about what is behind your decisions, but also choose your words carefully. Practice your message with members of your leadership team and get feedback. What you say and how you say it can go a long way in having your message received, embraced and supported.

Express gratitude: Let people know you appreciate their time, support and willingness to buy into your strategies/plans. Don’t just express that gratitude when you are introducing your plans, but throughout the implementation of your strategies/plans. Catch people working hard to make things work and recognize their efforts.

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