Did you know that the second law of thermodynamics has an important lesson to teach you in your leadership and organization? I didn’t either until I dug deeper.
Everything in the universe is running down, running out of energy, and becoming less organized and more disordered. – The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
Within a “closed system,” this law plays out with negative consequences. What does a “closed sytem” look like? It’s where leaders and organizations isolate themselves from outside input and support, run down, run out of energy and become disordered.*
The good news is, however, that there’s a proven approach to dealing with the downward pull of the second law.
The way to stop the downward pull
The better way to approach the inevitable downward pull is to adopt an “open system.” An “open system” is where you allow outside energy, templates and points of view to influence your leadership and the way you do things. When you do that, you stem the tide created by the second law of thermodynamics.
The benefits of staying open to outside input brings the ability to keep growing under pressure, a new perspective on old problems, and a greater capacity to navigate transition and change. Remaining static results in lost ground and missed opportunities.
For the leader
Set a boundary on your tendency to be a “closed system,” and open yourself to outside inputs that bring you energy and guidance.” – Henry Cloud
Leaders do this by practicing the following habits:
- Be aware when you are becoming isolated from resourceful people
- Engage a coach or trusted advisor to help you stay sharp
- Be open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses
- Join a network of like-minded people who will give you valuable feedback
- Take time for personal reflection and development
- Read and learn from the wisdom and experience of others
For the organization
Just as a leader needs outside input, an organization needs to remain open to new sources of energy and templates. Templates are patterns, models, and frameworks you haven’t yet tried but are proven to have worked elsewhere.
You need force and you need the intelligence to inform action. – Henry Cloud
Organizations do this by adopting the following attitudes and habits:
- Admit you may not have what’s needed to solve your problem or challenge
- Invest money, time and energy into outside support because the ROI is worth it
- See outside energy as positive, not a threat to the status quo
- Embrace outside input as an opportunity to foster creativity and innovation
- Use regular assessment and evaluation tools facilitated by a neutral party to keep you clear in your thinking
Last month, I facilitated a priority setting session with a national non-profit organization. As we were near the end, I was asking one of the leaders how they felt the facilitation was going. They made an interesting comment, “The last facilitator we brought in had been part of our organization in the past and ended up lobbying for one of the priorities he happened to like.”
What was the result? The process lost some “energy” for the best ideas because objectivity was lost. This year’s process he said was different. I was a total outsider with no agenda and created a safe container in which they could have their conversation, disagree, push back, and come up with the best ideas.
What are the signs that the 2nd law is taking you where you don’t want to go? What are you doing to keep your leadership and your organization infused with fresh energy, input and thinking? You can see and feel the difference!
*Source: Boundaries for Leaders by Henry Cloud