Have you noticed how much we throw around the word “power”? You can munch on a power bar while driving your car with power steering and listening to Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love.”
But in science, actual power has three specific variables. It refers to how much you can move (productivity), how far you can move it (longevity), and how fast you can move it (efficiency). I find these variables apply in each and every business.
Do you plan to get a lot accomplished in your company? Do you want to go the distance? Do you hope to fulfill your goals in an efficient amount of time? Then you’re going to need some power.
In centuries past, people relied on workhorses to produce the power necessary for farming, sailing, mining, and so on. With the industrial revolution, we discovered other means of generating power—the steam engine. Yet to this day, “horsepower” is still used to determine how much power output a car can produce—how much, how far, and how fast.
Unfortunately, I see many businesses who experience a breakdown in their productivity, longevity, or efficiency. They are limiting their horsepower. For some, there is an outstanding problem that needs addressing. For others, they’ve merely maxed out their resources and staffing, and need outside help to accomplish certain goals. In the last several blog posts, I’ve been looking at a number of these different scenarios.
What diminishes your horsepower
Previously, I wrote about how fear can affect the leadership potential of a business executive. A fear of failure, a fear that you don’t belong, a fear of appearing weak: each of these can detract from your overall horsepower. Fear can stop you from reaching out for help, from taking risks, and from investing in your own potential. It reduces your dreams, stops you short of your goals, and slows you down with indecision. Don’t let fear diminish your horsepower.
I also wrote about pride, and the way it harms team dynamics and personal achievement in leaders. There are times in each business when leaders have to acknowledge their limitations and look for creative solutions, often by bringing in impartial sources from outside the company. Pride can create the delusion that a company is doing the best it potentially can (there’s always room for growth!), or reinforce the belief that leaders are powerless to do anything else (there’s always potential for change!). Don’t let pride diminish your horsepower.
What boosts your horsepower
But just as some choices diminish your horsepower, other choices can boost it. One key decision is to pursue honest, open, and transparent communication throughout your organization. You do this by fixing the telephone game. When important details are being lost in translation, when valuable intel isn’t making its way up or down the chain of command—the overall power of the business is definitely compromised. How can you be productive, last in the long run, and work efficiently when critical information is skewed and distorted, if it’s ever communicated at all? For companies that prioritize their power, it sometimes takes a deliberate outside effort to evaluate the health and condition of internal communication channels. Fix the telephone game—boost your horsepower!
Finally, power will always increase for those executives who are committed to growth—growing their personal leadership, growing their connections, and growing their resources. The leader who refuses to grow is the leader who chooses to stagnate. This, as you can imagine, is very bad for power output. Imagine refusing to feed your car gas—what will eventually happen? The car will slow down, until it eventually comes to a complete stop. This is exactly what will happen in a business that doesn’t reach out for growth opportunities in personal goals, in team goals, and in company goals.
The start of new year is a perfect time for reflecting on the past year and setting new goals. As you think about how much you’d like to accomplish, how far you’d like to go, and how fast you’d like to get there, you must think about the intentional choices you will have to make to make that power a possibility in the long run. In “Stories of Horsepower,” thoroughbred horse trainer, Todd Pletcher, says about racehorses, “It’s not all about who’s the fastest, it’s about who can stay on and maintain that speed over a distance of ground. The ones that can generate that high cruising speed, and keep doing it, those are generally the ones that fall into that elite category.”
I want your business to be elite, to boost its horsepower, to drive forward with confidence. I want you to be confident that your productivity, your longevity, and your efficiency are on track and steadily increasing. As you look ahead on this new year, don’t let fear or pride stop you from taking the necessary steps towards generating the power you’ll need to thrive.