January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a chance for proposing changes. The tradition is to make resolutions such as to lose weight or exercise more. Typically, they are personal goals made by individuals, but I have a new twist by making a resolution for CEOs, heads of government agencies and executive teams of all organizations. I propose these types of managers enlist in a yoga class.
My reasoning is that these leaders need to periodically detach themselves from the hustle and bustle of daily distractions and have some solitude for introspective. I was inspired by this idea by reading a lecture by William Deresiewicz that was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October, 2009.
Deresiewicz began his lecture by asking, “What does solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others – the people you’re leading. When we think about leadership in American history we are likely to think of Washington, at the head of an army, or Lincoln, at the head of a nation, or King, at the head of a movement – people with multitudes behind them, looking to them for direction. And when we think of solitude, we are apt to think of Thoreau, a man alone in the woods, keeping a journal and communing with nature in silence.”
Solitude allows one to be alone with his thoughts. Arguably solitude is crucial to carry out the task of leadership. Executives need this, and a yoga class may provide them the chance to deeply consider the lasting improvements and skills their organization will need to for sustained organizational performance improvement. These include exploiting the emerging practices of business analytics and deploying and integrating enterprise performance management methodologies, including strategy maps, scorecards, dashboards, risk management, activity-based costing, predictive analytics, rolling financial forecasts, and many others.
Sadly, just as New Year resolutions are often broken, my fear is that executives will not actively adopt these methods, despite their being proven as ways to advance their organizations. So, similar to how individuals make a resolution to diet but then indulge in eating sweets and desserts, it will be unfortunate that executives will likely postpone initiating the methods and techniques that can sustain improvement. If they took a yoga class, the forced solitude may provide them with the vision of what can be to inspire their workforce.
NOTE: Originally published in Closing the Intelligence Gap blog.