Leadership Lessons From Car Tires

Organizations and individuals remain stuck because they don’t understand and/or can’t endure the disorienting unbalance “new” always creates. Wise leaders understand prepare for, accept, and work through the pains of disequilibrium.

Unbalance always precedes balance.

From the garage:

The tires on your car are balanced on spin balance machines. Technicians spin the tires and add balancing weights until they turn smoothly. Unbalanced tires cause cars to shakes and shimmy. The faster you drive the more out-of-balance-tires vibrate. It can feel like an earthquake inside your car.

Move through:

The only way to bring out-of-balance into balance is by pushing through vibration. The bigger an initiative the more vibration it causes and the more resistance you’ll experience.

  1. Every new initiative rightly calls for disproportionate attention. Wise leaders realize they must over-focus on new projects until they’re spinning smoothly on their own.
  2. Established systems complain because new, young, unproven upstart programs receive inordinate amounts of attention and resources.
  3. Warning! If you don’t over-focus on the new, established systems gobble it up. It becomes a minor modification rather than an innovation. In the end, nothing changes. Courageously over-nurture the new.

Unbalance makes you feel out of kilter, uncertain, and disoriented. We’ll feel shimmies and shakes until new equilibriums emerge. You must stop or work through.

Working through:

  1. Over-focus on the new.
  2. Honor and celebrate established systems.
  3. Don’t demonize the past in order to motivate. Demonizing the past insults those who built it.
  4. Listen carefully while maintaining forward focus. Much of what you’ll hear is code for don’t change things.
  5. Remember criticisms and complaints are frequently overstatements reflecting important values.
  6. Keep ultimate goals in mind while working through details. Don’t get lost.

Systems spin smoothly until something changes. All new initiatives create unbalance.  The only solution is more spinning. Don’t stop – work through.


How do you create and then work through unbalance?


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