Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Begins With a Wheel

If you're going to talk about bicycles, you had better start with the wheel. The wheel is the most crucial element of the bicycle: it allows the rider to roll over the ground with great speed and efficiency. A bicycle wheel needs to be able to handle a variety of forces. Besides holding up the weight of the cyclist, a wheel must withstand the forces of pedaling and braking and the jarring effects of the road surface. The resistance to the motion of a wheel can vary tremendously depending on the surface on which it is traveling. The treads of bike tires can affect performance.

Even the earliest bicycles used spokes of one sort or another. A spoked wheel can be made as strong as a solid one and have only a fraction of the weight. It's easy to think of the spokes as columns supporting the wheel and helping it retain its shape. But, the "support" that the wheel receives is created by pulling the spokes towards the center of the wheel (tension) rather than pushing out from the center (compression).

Many aspects of the wheel make it crucial for the success of a bicycle. But this isn't about bicycles so much as it is the leadership you provide to the organization you lead.

What's your leadership "wheel?" There's a lot of right answers to this question, so you will have to figure it out for yourself. Here's my suggestion:


Trust is the foundation of leadership. To build trust, a leader must exemplify these qualities: character, competence, and chemistry (Bill Hybels). In order to develop these qualities, Posner and Kouzes have suggested six disciplines of credibility or trust:
  1. Discovering your self
  2. Appreciating constituents
  3. Affirming shared values
  4. Developing capacity
  5. Serving a purpose
  6. Sustaining hope
Leadership exists only in the eyes of those who follow you - are your "wheels" on right?

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