Kinetic Leadership-Can there be too much energy?

In a post last week I discussed the differences between Kinetic and Potential leadership.  I would like to talk more today about Kinetic leadership, but let’s take a quick look at the differences shown below:

Kinetic Energy vs. Potential Energy

Kinetic Potential
Definition The energy of a body or a system with respect to the motion of the body or of the particles in the system.
Potential Energy is the stored energy in an object or system because of its position or configuration.
Relationship to Environment Kinetic energy of an object is relative to other moving and stationary objects in its immediate environment. Potential energy is not relative to the environment of an object.
Transferability Kinetic energy can be transferred from one moving object to another, say, in collisions. Potential energy cannot be transferred.
Examples Flowing water, such as when falling from a waterfall.
Water at the top of a waterfall, before the precipice.
Unit of Measurement Joule (J) Joule (J)
Determining Factors Speed/velocity and mass Height or distance and mass


Kinetic vs. Potential Leadership


Kinetic Potential
Definition Inspiring, motivating and aligning human capital assets in the workplace Devising and forming strategy to promote the changes needed in the workplace
Environmental influence Change is essential for growth and Kinetic leadership provides the catalyst for this change Failing to plan means planning to fail.  Even if the plans do change, a strategy needs to exist for the emphasis and direction of the change considered
Transference Kinetic leaders “infect” their followers with the same types of enthusiasm and direction they possess.  They also model the behavior necessary for success. Potential leadership is also essential to provide the planning and guidance for Kinetic leadership to be successful.
Example A leader works with a group to explain and lead an effort to grow or change a business unit or team.  This Kinetic leader uses a variety of tools and methods in order to bring action to the change. Potential leadership is exhibited by planning and providing a strategy and direction for an effort.  Potential leadership is essential for Kinetic leadership to be successful.
Measurement method Many measure can be used including profit, sales growth, employee engagement and reduction in turnover. Potential leadership may be more difficult to measure.  The success of the plan after implementation can be viewed in conjunction with the original direction and strategy.


Kinetic leadership is about movement and change, but can there be too much Kinetic leadership in some circumstances?  I think there can.  Here are some examples:

  • a leader comes into a group and begins to make changes without fully communicating the purpose or direction of the changes
  • organizations continue to employ kinetic leadership with little pause or time to adjust from one change to another
  • an organization employs only Kinetic leadership, even to the point of causing “burnout” for those tasked with implementing the change.

These examples allow me to introduce two new terms to the Kinetic leadership vocabulary.  Those terms are Pace and Timing.  Both are explained below:

Pace-Allowing sufficient time for the organization going through change to fully digest the scope and magnitude of the change.

Timing-Ensuring that the finer points of the change are communicated and laid out prior to implementation; also making sure that the vestiges of any previous change are removed or accounted for before the new change is implemented.

I’ll be back in a few days to give examples of how Pace and Timing can be used effectively in Kinetic leadership and I’ll also illustrate what happens when the are not.

Have you seen examples of Kinetic leadership where it has been employed with the wrong pace and/or timing?