When good leaders see momentum developing within their organization and harness it, positive results happen at a much more rapid pace and success becomes almost second nature. But to keep momentum going, you must revisit what started it, re-set goals, and re-energize, recognize and reward your team.
In the sports world, momentum is everything, and can change in the blink of an eye, swinging quickly from one direction to another. As Baseball Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver once observed, "Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher."
In the professional world, momentum is perhaps not as fickle, but it is no less important. To have great success, momentum must be created. Casting a new vision, setting initiatives in place, the launch of a new product or service, the creation of a team, and a series of successes are all ways in which momentum can be built. And when a leader recognizes that momentum is occurring, and takes full advantage of it, the results can be outstanding.
Unfortunately, just because forward motion is being made, it is not guaranteed to stay. If momentum starts fading, there is a tendency for your subordinates, and even you as the leader, to find yourselves going through the motions of complacency. Therefore, not only must momentum be created, but a premium should be placed on making it last.
It is the leader's responsibility to keep the ball rolling, utilizing and maintaining momentum to not just achieve immediate objectives, but your long-term vision as well.
Perhaps the easiest thing to do to maintain momentum for your team is to keep raising the bar. Once a goal is achieved, it is easy for your organization as a whole to ease off the accelerator, pull back and catch a collective breath. Simon & Schuster publishing icon Michael Korda offered this advice: "One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals."
Setting new company-wide objectives each time one is achieved will consistently keep you moving full steam ahead corporately. Keep the new goals attainable and in line with what got you started—and make sure they fit in with the overall vision you have already created.
"Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work," Super Bowl-winning coach Vince Lombardi once said. Individual efforts within your organization helped create the initial momentum, and they will be crucial to helping maintain it.
In addition to establishing new corporate goals, meet individually with each player on your team. Evaluate their contributions for the previous momentum push and outline the next steps needed from him or her to keep things accelerating. Also gauge their perspective of where things were, where they are now and where they are going to keep an active read on the momentum pulse of your corporate culture.
You do not want to be a task master, constantly pushing people to the brink of exhaustion, to keep momentum. Give subordinates a break when appropriate to prevent burn out—whether it is a corporate outing or simply a day away from the office—allowing them to get re-energized and refocused on the task at hand.
Just be wary of too much of a break: In 2007 the Colorado Rockies had tremendous momentum, winning 21 out of 22 games, including 10 straight as they headed into the World Series. But an eight-day layoff killed the team's streak and they were swept out of their championship bid in just four games. Keep the focus on re-energizing, not relaxing.
Something started the momentum you are experiencing. While you may not be able to completely recapture what created the initial buzz, you can facilitate events that will remind your team of what got them here.
Holding corporate outings, retreats, training sessions, rallies and team-building exercises on a regular basis will rekindle the original vision and purpose of the team, helping further a sense of excitement and keep your pace.
Being a part of something big can get anyone excited and build momentum. But once the newness is gone, catering to the individual can keep things rolling for your team. Celebrate victories that have been hard-earned to generate the momentum by rewarding your team, either with symbolic accolades or real value awards.
Offer ongoing incentives for team members who routinely go above and beyond and recognize their efforts on an organizational-wide basis. Not only will it encourage recipients to continue their efforts, but others will be motivated as well.
Meetings are rarely looked upon favorably by employees and managers alike, as most consider them to be an unproductive and useless part of their week. But when managed well, a meeting can become one of the most reliable and efficient tools you have to lead your team to achieve its goals.
A good leader concentrates on individual strengths and utilizing them to the fullest extent possible. But great leaders also focus on the weaknesses and find ways to support those shortcomings toward even more success.
Some leaders within your organization will have great pattern recognition, wisdom, trend anticipation, personnel insight and confidence, while others do not. Those who display these attributes will have the kind of intuition on which you should rely.