First, I am not a physicist. This explanation is an attempt to connect some things we all know and get on some level with the topic of leadership. Perhaps the topic is more about collaboration and how leadership works between “forces” to create change. So, now we can get to Newton and some thoughts about force, creating change, and setting the intention for our work.
I have used an example that force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma) to create an analogy for working as a leader or within a team. This is actually Newton’s second law about force and inertia he published in 1687. He was talking about force as an influence that causes an object to change. Mass of course, has weight and takes up space, or something to that effect. Acceleration has to do with movement and speed, like the accelerator pedal underfoot. To bring it to a leadership topic we can define force as a movement or the intention for positive change. Force has to do with strength, intensity, power, and energy. Force is still an influence that precipitates change. Let’s change the M and the A though. Rather than mass, we use Me, or Members. True, both of these still have weight and take up space. The other part of our equation is Attitude. Again, the attitude of the leader(s) and/or the team is definitely going to have an impact on the acceleration of the goals and objectives at hand. The attitude of the leader (me) is going to provide a model and establish a tone for the rest of the members.
The force for change is set by those involved in the meaning making and the agenda setting group of leaders creating the movement. I would call them leaders. It is related to the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Attitude is everything (someone said that before me…. but I couldn’t find a particular person for attribution).
Let’s return to Newton’s laws for a minute. The first was that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Which is that feeling you have when the roller coaster car comes to a sudden stop (or slower speed) and you get thrown against the padded bar holding you in place. The force that we are creating not only depends on attitude and the masses (me and members), but it has to be sustained for lasting effect. The amount of energy it takes to create momentum generally has to start somewhere. Once the energy is in motion we need to keep it moving. It is a lot easier to keep the energy in motion once it is moving. Finally, Newton’s third law is about symmetry, or the interaction among different forces. This action-reaction law says that one action generally creates an opposite reaction from another. This “pushback” or reaction is good from a leadership perspective. A reaction of some type is a good sign. Energy of any sort communicates interest. This is good for any change. It provides a greater energy. It is much better to obtain a reaction, and some indication of interest. The opposite of this is apathy. We need change, and motion, not apathy and a dead end.
How does your attitude contribute to the forward force and momentum of your group?