How Does a Leader Create Momentum?

Posted On: December 5

Recently, one of my connections on LinkedIn sent me a question. Rather than reply just to him, I thought that many of you might find value in my answer. Here is the essence of his inquiry.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on momentum. How does a leader create it? Is it predictable? Is it sustainable?

Here are my thoughts.

Momentum is essential to creating a sense of urgency and a desire to achieve continuously higher levels of success. Momentum can be hard to initiate but extremely challenging to sustain.

My advice is to plan for small wins. Establish goals that you know your team can achieve. By all means, you should have stretch goals, but you should have a handful of goals that are within reach. Use these as milestones on the journey toward achieving your big goals. When you achieve one, celebrate. Praise your team. Show them how they play a significant role in moving the company forward. Then plan for another small win. As Jim Collins explained in his book Good to Great, this is the flywheel concept. It is slow going in the beginning, but once you get the wheel spinning, the momentum keeps it going.

Using a different analogy, it can also be like pushing a car. Once you get the momentum going, it will start rolling, but the minute you stop pushing, it will slow down and eventually stop. You must have the ability to push and keep pushing That is why it is so difficult to sustain momentum over the long-term. Eventually, you’re going to have to take a rest. Without a pause, the constant pressure will ultimately burn you and your people out. Once that happens, getting the momentum started back up is very arduous.



Plan for small wins. Celebrate every win. Create momentum. Maintain momentum by continuously achieving small wins. Also, plan for a strategic pause to allow your team to catch their breath before burnout. Then start the process again.

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