Needing to work up an appetite for Thanksgiving is getting me back in the gym today. And one thing to be thankful for is that we are finally back rowing on the Thames River for the first time in months (UK’s incessant rainfall has kept the flow too fast for boats till recently). Both of these athletic pursuits recently brought to mind an allegory to the Leadership and Management balance.

The drive phase of Leadership and the negative resistance of Management.

Everyone gets the pushing against the weight bar or boat footplate as hard as you can. Positive resistance. It makes the boat/weight go forward. A lot like Leadership.

But just as critical, especially for good technique, is ‘Negative Resistance’. Such controlled ‘negative resistance’ provides an even deeper workout in weightlifting. It also minimises the downside of injury. A lot like Management.

The principle of sustained positive and negative resistance is a major challenges for novice rowers. Everyone gets the pulling hard bit, but just as critical is a ‘controlled slide’. That means that once you have finished the ‘pull’ (actually, it is more of a ‘push’ with the legs), you slowly return up the slide, with control in your legs. Sort of like a horizontal ballet plié. If you don’t, if you let the momentum of the boat simply fling you back to the catch. Then when you get there, you will have to stop yourself and that stop will throw pressure on the footplate actually pushing the boat backwards. Backwards is not where you want to go. In rowing or in an organisation.

Leaders power the load forward, Manager preserve the momentum. Both together make for champion performance.