Maintaining Leadership Momentum in your life and your organization

Those of you who know me well understand that under this façade I wear I am really a Geek.  I say that with complete pride.  Being a geek is not a bad thing and having those geeky skills and that knowledge sometimes will come in handy, especially with today’s post.

Recent posts have focused more on career issues and perseverance.  Today is more on core leadership.

I  have an undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics.  What that really means is that I am a low-voltage electrical engineer.  I learned all of my physics just after Newton devised it (not really), but my physics background does come in handy.  It is really interesting to see how people react when I tell them I have a degree in physics or engineering.  They look at me differently and that is not always a bad thing.

Today’s topic is maintaining leadership momentum.  In order to best explain leadership momentum we will take  trip into physics to explain momentum.  Hang on, this won’t be that difficult.

Momentum is measured using the equation below:


Mass equals mass; V equals velocity

Some of you will equate Velocity with speed.  They are similar, but there is one great difference between velocity and speed.  Speed is the quantitative measure of distance over time.  Velocity is speed in a given direction, like a Vector.  Considering direction with speed gives momentum a special meaning and a great correlation with leadership.

Since we now know that two things affect momentum, let’s take another step forward.

To increase momentum you can do one of three things:

1.  Increase mass

2.  Increase velocity

3.  Increase velocity and mass

Let’s use these analogies in the context of an organization.

Organizational mass can be measured in several ways.  Organizational mass can be related to the level or power of the person setting the direction or velocity.  It can also be measured in terms of the number of people, or size of the group, moving in a given direction.  Think of it this way.  Having one elephant running toward you would be scary, but having a herd of pachyderms heading your way would be frightening.

I think you have a handle on the mass side.  Let’s talk about velocity.  Organizational speed can result from adding more energy or force in the given direction.  There are two key things here that don’t need to be taken for granted:

1.  Why we are adding force or speed to an initiative?

2.  Who is determining the direction of this speed?

So often I see organizations adding speed or energy to an initiative, but there is not clear communication about why this is being done or what the purpose is of the effort.  Consider this comparison:

-Would you want to be riding in a speeding train down a track with no one directing the train?  Better yet, what if the train knew where it was going, but those in the railroad system had a different idea in mind.  Maybe another train is on the same track heading toward the speeding train your are on.

Mass or composition of an initiative is just as important as the speed of the effort.  Direction is also very important.

If you are trying to establish or maintain momentum keep the mass and the velocity in mind.


They will make the difference between success and failure.