• Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

    Getting Positive Momentum Back

    Photo Jan 22, 7 28 14 AMMarch Madness just finished and one of the most talked about aspects of the tournament was the concept of momentum. Media analyzed teams by how they got, kept, and then lost positive momentum throughout a game and within the tournament. It seemed, at times, having positive momentum was the most important factor in the tournament.

    Over the last couple of posts I’ve explored the reality and causes of personal and organizational momentum. The question we all face at one time or another, just like the teams in the NCAA basketball tournament, is what do you do to get lost momentum back?

    From my experience there are four specific steps you must take to reverse the negative momentum in any situation, whether basketball, personally or organizationally.

    First, quickly acknowledge that you’ve lost momentum. This usually starts with believing the numbers. Numbers always tell you the direction your headed, not because they’re the whole story but because they’re the leading indicators of the story. Take it from a guy who’s made this mistake to many times – it is way too easy to ignore or explain away the numbers.

    Second, don’t over react to your loss of momentum. Make sure you understand the causes behind the numbers and the momentum going the wrong way. This is the most important step because it’s tempting to fire a shotgun to solve potential problems before you truly understand the root causes.

    Third, once you know and understand the root causes, decide on a course of action to change and get rid of these causes and redirect the course of your momentum.

    Finally, you need to change whatever or whoever will get stop you from doing what’s necessary to change the momentum. And believe me there will be things and people who will stand in the path of any necessary change. So this will sound cold, but you have to be willing to move out-of-the-way, anything and everything, including people, who will work to stop you. If you don’t, I guarantee, your best laid plans will whither on the vine.

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    Losing Momentum and Why It Happens

    Photo Jan 22, 7 23 52 AMAs I mentioned in my last post, I found out at the end of last year that I have high cholesterol, so I’ve been working to lower it naturally before June (when I have my follow-up appointment with my Doctor). And my take away has been realizing just how important momentum is, not only in improving my health, but in organizational health and effectiveness.

    Now momentum, whether it’s personal or organizational, doesn’t last forever. Momentum always slows down and eventually hits a plateau. Now plateaus can be good things, if we’ve planned for them and know how we’ll move off from them.

    But the truth is plateau’s usually catches us by surprise. And by the time we accept that momentum is slipping away we’re usually too late to keep the old momentum going, putting us in real danger of sliding backwards. And the hard reality is we either going forward or going backwards. We never stay at the plateaus long because they’re just transition points leading to either positive or negative momentum. Plateaus are not livable places.

    Unfortunately I’ve experienced this truth as I’ve tried in the past to get into better shape. For example, I may begin to run regularly and lose some weight but then my running will become inconsistent and I’ll start eating poorly then my health will plateau.  This usually happens just before I slowly start gaining a few pounds (usually explaining them away), and then, before I know it, I’m back, health wise, to where I started (or worse).

    Why does this happen?

    First, I didn’t anticipate that someday my fitness momentum will would come to an end nor did I anticipate the possible causes for why it end.

    Second, I never created a written plan that would address these causes so I could continue to improve, or at least maintain my current level of fitness.

    Third was the fact that I was not quick to accept that my momentum was actually beginning to ebb away and so wasn’t prepared to go into quick and necessary action before negative momentum set in.

    And unfortunately these are the same reasons organizational momentum slips away. The leader doesn’t anticipate, plan, and quickly accept that momentum is beginning to slow down. The consequence is the leader trades the easier work of early action for the hard work (usually done by a new leader) of reversing negative momentum.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    The Hard Work of Momentum Change

    Photo Jan 22, 7 28 10 AMAt the end of 2012 I had a physical exam. And as I expected everything turned out fine except my cholesterol levels. I anticipated that my LDL cholesterol might be high because of our family history and because, over the last few years, I’ve committed the two sins of managing cholesterol – eating whatever I wanted to and not exercising consistently (thus my weight was also at an all-time high).

    So when the doctor suggested I go on medication I told him I wanted six months to straighten out my eating and exercise regimen to see if I could correct my high cholesterol naturally. He agreed, so I have until June to see if I can improve my cholesterol levels.

    Now, even though I won’t find out until June if my cholesterol has lowered, I have had other, more visible, gains. For example I’ve lost 18 pounds and reduced my mile splits (running is my exercise of choice) by minute and a half. As a matter of fact it seems that the more weight I lose the faster I run and the faster I run the more weight I loose.

    You see my physical health is now experiencing positive momentum. But before I started to focus on my health, its momentum, I have to admit, was steadily, but discernibly, going in the wrong direction.

    This got me to thinking; my health momentum parallel’s an organization’s momentum. And just like my health, organizations are either going forward or going backward, they’re never standing still.

    And like taking charge of my health, a leader’s job is to build the organization’s forward momentum.

    But as I’ve learned over the last few months, reversing downward momentum is hard work. It requires goals, investment, focus, discipline, constant and timely feedback on performance, and the tenacity to stay with it until the momentum’s reversed and beginning to go in the right direction.

    So what’s the momentum of your health, your life, the organization or team you lead? If it’s headed in the wrong direction maybe it’s time to do what’s required to get that positive momentum going again before you have to take the hard medicine.

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