We see it in all around us – an almost inexplicable energy that propels a team to victory, a company to higher levels of performance and individuals to accomplish more than anyone thought possible. What is this force and how can we marshal it for our purposes?
We know momentum when we see it, but what is it? I described it in the opening paragraph as an energy and a force – it is both. It is also a belief in yourself and your team. It is a confidence in your ability to perform and prevail. It is an optimism grounded in the moment.
When momentum swings, that’s a way to describe its movement from one group, team or person to another. You and I don’t want to be on the wrong end of that swing if we can help it.
So how do you harness this invisible force? As you might imagine, it’s elusive – what do you expect from an invisible force? However, there are a few things leaders can do to create the conditions in which momentum can manifest itself.
Create Small Wins – Momentum often starts slowly and gains speed. Small wins are the fuel of momentum. How can you and your team create small wins? Specifically, what can you do this week? This month? Set a target, create a plan and run the play! Every win makes the next one easier.
Lead with Talent – Momentum doesn’t always follow talent, but it does seem to have a strong affinity for it. What can you and I do to surround ourselves with talent? What can we do to strengthen our individual skills? Thomas Jefferson said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I think luck and momentum are cousins. Where you find one, you’ll often see the other.
Ensure Great Conditioning – Shakespeare said it first, and Vince Lombardi made it famous: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." This doesn’t just apply to athletes. Leaders need energy and stamina. Our physical conditioning is a key factor we can influence. Are you fit to lead? I’ve never seen a sports team crippled by exhaustion enjoy the benefits of momentum.
Believe You Can – Optimism breeds optimism. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are correct.” Regardless of the circumstances, you must maintain the belief that you, your team or your organization can prevail.
Always Lead – After decades of leadership, I’m still not convinced leaders can create momentum. As I stated, it is unpredictable. However, leaders have massive influence over its elemental and contributing factors. Leaders can drive for, orchestrate and create small wins. Leaders can recruit talent and ensure its growth. Leaders can model and demand the right attitude toward conditioning and hard work. And the best leaders always set the pace by expecting the best.
As you may have experienced, momentum is a valuable ally. And, if you’re on the wrong side, it can create a formidable challenge. So, what’s a leader to do? This is where your intuitive skills are needed. Be mindful of the unseen. When you sense you’ve lost momentum, begin immediately to get it back on your side.[GLS_Shield]
When have you experienced the power of momentum?