Friday, April 10, 2015

Are You A Leader Who Rocks The Boat ~ Or One That Prefers Smooth Sailing?

I was born and raised in the 50’s when life was simpler. Grew up in the turbulent 60’s where the tensions of civil rights, women’s rights, the cold war, and Viet Nam permeated the morning papers.  By the time the 70’s rolled in, we were all hungry for the message of love and encouragement to “get along.”

Much of my life, I tried to do just that. I was a peacemaker. Rocking the boat was not my forte, and for the most part, I avoided conflict like the plague. But as I grew into various leadership roles, I discovered that tension wasn’t necessarily a bad thing…in fact, putting the correct amount of tension into the formula produced desired results.

Tension creates a “check and balance” system to keep us on track. (Can you imagine the Democrats and Republicans getting along on EVERY bill that came their way?) Great leaders have used tension in a creative, useful manner creating a culture where tension is used as potential energy, a driving force to get a job done.

Consider the bow and arrow. Should the arrow be placed in the string without the draw of the bow and the tension it brings, the arrow would simply be useless, as would the bow. It’s the tension which gives the arrow the energy to move forward.

As leaders it’s our responsibility to know how much tension is needed - when to crank it up, and when to back it down. As with that guitar so many of us played “back in the day” the right amount of tension on those strings played some great music…too much and the strings snapped rendering the room silent.

If we avoid tension and simply try to get along, we are robbing our organization of a growth potential that they may never attain.

Be Good To Yourself...


  1. I agree, there is sometimes the need for tension if the result is the two, three or more sides move forward. I too was raised during those turbulent,unsteady and unsettling times. Leadership is also needed in our society and our world. Education sometimes falls short because mainstream thought often comes from the bottom up, and is not embraced by politicians, Boards of Education, high level administrators and parents. An organization requires all parts of the whole.just like a lead guitar needs six strings. The harmony only gets better!

  2. To be a change agent rocking the boat is essential! A double nickels child here and middle of six. I always got it both from both sides of the age spectrum yet was fearless when it came to defending myself. As a reading specialist and staff developer I am still rocking the boat! Change or die as teachers cannot afford to resist change, it is the only constant we can count on. I am a teacher leader, not a follower and that is both a positive and negative attribute.