The Elastic Band Theory of Leadership

If your team is able to keep up with everything going on in your organization then your vision is too small.  My friend Guy uses the analogy that wise leadership is often knowing how to navigate the tension of an elastic band.

A leader’s job is to cast a compelling vision, mobilize resources and chart a course to make it happen.  Anything worthwhile doing will be hard and will take all the resources you’ve got, undoubtedly more than you have right now.  Stretching the band out as far as you can gets you up each day because you’re working at making the impossible possible.  The intensity also brings along people with high capacity who want to see your vision become a reality.

However, a little while into your pursuit of the vision, the servers die, donations are lost, a lawsuit is filed, a key leader leaves or some other high impact event occurs.  At the start the tension was fun, now it seems like the elastic band is stretched so thin that all the tension is going to cause a snap.  Good leadership knows the right adjustments to make so that the team stays in the game without compromising the vision.

I used to think that if my team only had a bigger budget and a few more people we team could stay on top of things.  Guy helped me see that if this happened then our vision would be too small.   Since then, my focus has shifted to knowing when to pull out the band and when I need to pull it back.

My virtual team is getting together this week for a (physical) team huddle.  We’ve just finished a software launch and recruited some new members.  Get ready –  the elastic band is about to get stretched again.


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