What Canoes tell us about leadership
When you learn to canoe, one of the first things you learn is that it matters where you put your weight. When you’re paddling through a current your boat will move where it’s lightest and stick where you’ve placed the weight.
Put your weight at the back and the slightest turn off center can send you reeling as the current catches you, accelerating your mistake and twisting you backwards, pivoting around your center of mass.
But if you put your weight at the front, it helps you. The canoe will pivot around the weight, using the current to help correct any mistakes, pushing you back on track. So what does this have to do with leadership?
Leading with weight
If you drive your team from the back, giving instructions, micro-managing and pushing their efforts yourself then you’re in danger. The slightest mis-step will send you wildly off course and efforts to correct it will often just accelerate a bad situation into something much worse.
Instead focus your energy at the front. Talk about what you want to achieve, not how you’re going to do it. Give goals, hire great people and then trust them to get the job done. Of course, get stuck in where it’s needed, but place your weight at the front, inspire and lead.