Case Study

The physics of leadership: Mobilizing, focusing and sustaining leadership in your organization

6 pages
December 2023
Reference: IMD-7-2511

This note uses physics metaphors like energy and momentum as a framework for leaders to drive success in their organizations. Effective leaders mobilize their organization’s latent potential – skills, talent and creativity – turning it into work for progress and innovation. Steve Jobs’s culture of learning at Apple illustrates how potential can become transformative action. Focus is central to utilizing energy – articulating a mission and strategy, and setting clear goals, akin to taking aim with an arrow. Tools like Google’s OKRs align and measure collective efforts towards these targets. Sustaining organizational energy demands a culture of support, open communication and commitment to continuous development, thus fostering a motivated and engaged workforce. Leaders must also create momentum through strategic resource alignment and goal setting, as exemplified by Satya Nadella’s leadership at Microsoft. Influential power, demonstrated by Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic and trust-building approach, is crucial for navigating crises and driving change.

Learning Objective
  • Understand the concept of potential and kinetic energy in physics and apply it to leadership by identifying latent talents and capabilities within the team and activating them for the organization’s benefit.
  • Develop strategies to transform the team’s potential energy into kinetic energy by mobilizing skills and talents into productive action.
  • Learn to focus organizational energy by setting a clear mission, strategy and measurable goals, using tools like OKRs to align and track progress.
  • Create a culture that sustains energy by promoting long-term engagement, supporting team members’ well-being, fostering continuous learning and celebrating achievements.
Communication, Digital, Human Resources, Energy, Execution
Generalized Experience
© 2023
Available Languages
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