I vividly recall my old physics teacher, Mr. Dill, defining gravity as a force that attracts things to each other, in which the strength of the force is relative to how big the two objects are.

He later switched the words ‘big’ to ‘masses’ and ‘things’ to ‘bodies’. He was a master at simple language.

It’s All About Balance

Mr. Dill also taught me that the force of gravity can be used to benefit us or to harm us. It is the force that allows the Earth to rotate close enough to the sun to keep us alive without drifting into space, but not too close to burn us up.

However, at any given time, it could attract a meteorite to pound into the Earth causing significant damage. It’s a balance.

As I thought about this with regards to leadership, I quickly realized that gravitational pull is also present in our organizations.


The Natural Force

As human beings, we have a natural force that pulls us toward accomplishment.  We need to get things done in order to feel fulfilled and purposeful. As leaders, we can use this force for us or against us. By creating enough mass, we can draw our team members toward us or we can set them adrift into the abyss of corporate make-work.

The keys to creating enough mass in our organizations are around the goals and expectations we set for each member on our team. By setting loose goals with little direction around how to get there or switching focus from one goal to the next each day, we lose mass.

That loss causes team members to be pulled toward other, less important tasks. For me, I get pulled into doing little things that mean very little to corporate goals, but create a sense of accomplishment personally.

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I hear this in comments like, “You’re getting lost in the minutia.” Or “You seem to get sucked into all these minor tasks.”

Yes, I do, because I need a sense of accomplishment in order to create a sense of purpose within me. If you don’t give direction, your team will find its own.

Inspiring Teamwork

If you see this happening within your team or organization, stop and ask yourself how clear your goals and expectations are. Have you sat down with your team members and clearly expressed and reinforced goals? Do they know how their work relates to the accomplishment of those goals?

Gravitational Smart Goals

Create a stronger gravitational pull with your team by ensuring your goals have enough mass. Make them clear, consistent, worthwhile and attainable with some challenge.

Clearly communicate them regularly and ensure each member has the expectations set for how they can contribute to the team as an individual. This will keep them from going adrift.

How Do You Use Your Leadership to Pull Your Team?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Chris Elliot
Chris is a practicing Servant Leader with more than 20 years experience helping organizations implement change. In his new book Thought Shredder, he outlines the process that helped him become an authentic leader.