Taking the Sand out of the Gears

Photo by Mark Baker

Photo by Mark Baker

As an avid cyclist, I know how important it is to maintain my equipment so it will function well and contribute to a smooth ride. Usually that means a few turns of a wrench, regular cleaning and regular lubrication. When you’ve ridden through sand, however, extra TLC is required. Sand is particularly gritty and sticky, which can slow you down and cause excessive wear and tear on the chain and drive train. The remedies include a quick wash, a deep cleaning or replacing the chain. What you can’t do, as a responsible cyclist, is ignore it.

To make an analogy, it’s a problem when sand gets into the gears of our business processes, too. Consider:

  • What slows people down?
  • What creates inefficiency?
  • What is the opportunity cost of not doing something that we know we should do?
  • How much time do we spend coordinating and communicating work unproductively?
  • Do we solve problems as they arise or let them grow?
  • Are we trying to set up others for success or do we only set up barriers?

We’re people. In our daily work (and personal) lives, all of the interactions will create sand and gunk in our minds. It’s a leader’s responsibility to help create an environment where cleaning out the gunk and striving for a smooth journey is the norm. That’s not to say there won’t be bumps along the road. But if you set the bar high and lead in a manner that fosters respect and support, you won’t have to do it alone.

Learn more about a leadership “way of being” in Leadership, Discipline, And Garnering Respect. This brief article reflects on a speech delivered by Major General John M. Schofield, the Superintendent of United States Military Academy, on August 11, 1879. His words have withstood the test of time.




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