Momentum can be a blessing and a curse. As a science term, momentum simply states:
Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted upon by force. Business initiatives, policies, patterns of behavior, and attitudes will build momentum and then remain in the direction that they were created.
We often hope for the scenario where we have everything going well, where we can let the “momentum carry us.” We think that “we just need to gain momentum”, as if achieving great things were so easy. We like momentum, all the way until we don’t. We tend to both bemoan when there is not enough momentum and when we cannot change the momentum. If left unchecked, can lead to continually solving new problems with old systems and mindsets.
Leaders are responsible to assess their team’s and organization’s momentum and to be the external force to shift the momentum as needed. While the word “momentum” is about movement, hidden in plain sight within the word momentum is “moment”, a key leadership skill for managing momentum. The word moment reminds the leader of two elements that are part of the very definition of moment:
- A brief period of time.
We change momentum in the moments – in the brief openings where new direction and new energy can be applied. A large business meeting to launch a new strategy is valuable in sharing information and direction to many people; however, in of itself, it will fail in changing the momentum of an organization because it does not attend to all the moments where momentum can be created in the direction and manner sought.
Questions to consider for yourself and your team:
- What are the potential moments where you can help create the momentum you seek?
- What are the many, and often subtle, undercurrents affecting your momentum?
- What current momentum is helpful, and how will you cultivate it?
- What momentum – and repeated behaviors – no longer is useful?
Watch for the daily openings where you can support the momentum you seek. Don’t judge people in their momentum, just decide if it is useful or not, and then shift it to the desired momentum.