By David Straus
CREDIT: Getty Images
Why physics has more to do with your leadership style than you think.
Physics is usually not introduced as a business topic: while gravity, acceleration, and friction may take turns metaphorically coloring our executive summaries and quarterly reports, we don’t discuss literal omnipresent rules of the physical universe in any given boardroom. However, beyond what many of us were exposed to in high school, and as most are generally familiar, Physics actually branches out expansively, into numerous realms, many of which philosophers have played around with for ages.
Newtonian Physics is usually what we think of as Physics. Speed, mass, inertia; all concrete and calculable absolutes. For example, the assumption that the blue I see with my eyes is the same blue you see with your eyes; the sounds you hear at a concert are the same sounds I hear; even a microscopic electron is perceived to be tangible and finite and immutable in Newtonian Physics. This worldview is obviously extremely convenient for us as a species, and has been the foundation for centuries of research and discovery. It also plays well with our materialistic natures and underscores the foundations of the A+B=C nature of what we tend to do in medicine, healthcare, and business. Quantum Physics, on the other hand, sees the world as relative, a reality where all possibilities exist in every tiny micro-moment. Time is nonlinear. Light can behave both as a wave and a particle. Your experience of something in the world-a building, a breeze, a smell-is not necessarily exactly the same as anyone else’s.
So, what is the difference between a Newtonian Leader and a Quantum Leader? A Newtonian Leader takes his or her function in more of a black-and-white mechanistic approach. The Quantum Leader instead recognizes the vast array of possibilities in all situations and in their teams. They realize that leadership is shared, and as a result, understand how to lead, but simultaneously empower their teams and their colleagues to lead. The Quantum Leader recognizes the importance of instilling direction, while also instilling confidence in colleagues. Quantum Leadership is not just about having a well-oiled machine as an organization. The idea of right and wrong is less central to creating success for their team, partners, and organizations because they realize the infinite spectrum of possibilities that exist. This does not mean they are not determined to achieve clear, measurable goals but it means they remain open to expanding their idea of what their goals could mean. Aristotle’s First Principle Thinking is also an essential element of approaching the world as a Quantum Leader because both concepts share the presumption that all possibilities exist, including those yet to be imagined.
Below are 10 questions that you can use to be self-reflective as to what type of leadership you stand in more often. This is simply a guide to spark conversation within yourself about how you lead, and if you are an entrepreneur just beginning your career, how you may react to situations in front of you.
Answer with a YES or a NO to each of the 10 questions below:
- Do you believe infinite possibility exists for yourself at all times?
- Do you believe that infinite possibility exists for all members of your team/family/company at all times?
- Do you believe you have the ability to create something new for your company/team/organization at all times?
- Do you believe the way things are today does not determine the way they are in the future?
- Do you believe it is possible to invent/write/draw or communicate in any form something that is unique and authentic to who you are?
- Do you have multiple sources of data that you review prior to making a decision?
- Do you consider feelings you have in your body important indicators towards making decisions that are important to you?
- Do you trust yourself?
- Do you doubt yourself?
- Do you hold compassion and empathy for others?
Most of us can authentically answer yes or no to any of the above questions at different times in our lives or even at different moments in the day. That is what it means to be human. We are complex beings and falling into one bucket or another all the time would not be normal. Our ability, however, to stay open to possibilities, to lead with a vision that those possibilities can exist in everyone and our understanding that our ability as true leaders must come from our own authentic passion for what we do in the world, are key components of being a Quantum Leader. Answering yes to 5 of the 10 questions above would suggest you approach matters from a Quantum perspective at least 50% of the time; the more you answer yes, the higher the percentage of your time is spent leading from a Quantum perspective. To be clear, it’s not wrong if you find yourself leaning into a Newtonian perspective of leadership. In fact, most people in their day-to-day job would see themselves more as Newtonian Leaders than Quantum Leaders. However, embracing the perspectives of Quantum Leadership will allow you to train your mind and body to approach every situation with fresh eyes.
Exceptional leaders thrive with the recognition that all possibilities do exist inside each moment, and inside of each of us, and it’s only from this place that we can give birth to (or help birth) that historic idea, that groundbreaking company, that ultimate vision that the physical world may never see coming.
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