Thursday, June 15, 2006

Axiom #4

Leadership teams are like suspension bridges...
needing both tension members and compression members.

I was a mechanical engineering major for a while at Purdue... long enough to have one of those classes where you apply what you learn about force vectors to a bridge made out of balsa wood. After you design it and glue it all together, the final exam includes putting it on a contraption that adds incremental units of stress until the whole thing snaps into splinters. Some of our bridges buckled under the pressure (compression members couldn't take it), and others pulled apart (tension members couldn't take it).

I've observed that good leadership teams have both compression members (those types that are sort of solid and can handle work getting piled on their shoulders) as well as tension members (those of us who are happy to be stretched and pulled as we respond to various conditions).

Les Welk has a presentation that runs right along these lines of thinking that he calls "Leading in the Midst of Tension." I've linked it up on my podcast, available at

No comments: