Yo-Yo Leadership: Pulling Your Own Strings
Posted by The Leadership Mints Guy on April 25, 2012
By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you preserve and protect your values. Reading time: 2:23.
The six yo-yos flanking the side of the Chief Executive Officer’s desk like so many-colored safety switch buttons, quickly became a conversation piece for every first time visitor. And whenever he saw that familiar quizzical look, the CEO was only too happy to share the Yo-yo Lore that turned his desk into a toy chest of sorts.
“No, no, no I’m NOT having my second childhood and no I’m not a yo-yo dieter,” he smiled. “No yo-yos are too important to be used only as toys or as negative reminders of simplistic observations that what goes up must come down and all those variables that go with that kind of thinking.”
The visitor learns that the yo-yo display on his desk was gift from his direct reports. They were intrigued with his concept of principle-centered, values-based leadership that the then new CEO referenced in his first speech to the company.
“The most effective leaders are like a yo-yo,” the CEO declared to surprised looks in his company-wide audience assessing their new leader for the first time. “Leaders by definition are attached to something. They always come with strings attached, strings of cultural norms and behaviors, strings of values and truths, strings that make you you.
“Yet these leaders are not bound by these strings. They are tethered to a life support system of sorts yet free to explore new frontiers, free to wander out beyond their comfort zones, free to create Loop the Loop and Around the World and other innovations yet they always come back to their ground zero. They always come back to their value system. In fact it is their value system –their String attached—that makes it possible for them to expand their comfort zone.”
I thought about this yo-yo analogy for a few weeks after meeting this CEO. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I recalled as a kid how I was so ga-ga over my yo-yo that I never really took the time to clean my toy yo-yo. I played with it a lot but never really worked with it. And when the dirt and grime settled in and the string started to jumble up I got frustrated and threw the toy away. It didn’t work. Of course now I realize why so many years later: I didn’t work at it.
Now in retrospect, I see even more value in the CEO’s yo-yo analogy of leadership. It’s not enough to have a shiny yo-yo with a snappy string attached, if you don’t continuously work at it, continuously improve it and continuously innovate it.
After all, the yo-yo is hands on. When you screw up, you have to physically wind that string back into the heart and soul of the yo-yo. It doesn’t work unless you do. And in winding that (Values) String, you inspect every inch of it; you clean every inch of it and you get every inch of performance out of it. And you even celebrate it every day , just like that new CEO does: working at a desk flanked by so many yo-yos. Strings attached. By design.
Keep a string attached to your values to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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