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Leadership Black Holes

If you are scientifically inclined, you probably know what an interstellar black hole is. How about a leadership black hole?

First the interstellar variety: found at various places across our Milky Way Galaxy and beyond, an interstellar black hole, according to the scientists, is the remains of a dead star. But not just any kind of dead star. There are a variety of stars in the universe. Many are approximately the size and intensity of our sun. Some, however are larger – much larger. It is these very large stars that ultimately turn into black holes.

According to this theory, at some point in the past, when one of these very large stars ran out of thermonuclear energy, it collapsed on itself. Because of it’s great size, the gravitational pull of its mass pulled all the spent matter closer and closer together. What had been, at one point in time, a star that was significantly larger than our sun, collapsed down into a body the size of our earth or smaller. The matter packed in that space was so incredibly dense that the gravitational force became powerful enough that even light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, could not escape it’s grasp. Hence the name, “black hole” – an interstellar black hole emits no light. It can’t be seen.

So if an interstellar black hole can’t be seen, how do astronomers know about black holes? By the influence they exert on the space around them. While they can’t be seen, their impact is noticed other places.

Let’s think about the leadership analogy. The moral character of a leader is critically important to his or her long-term effectiveness (For argument’s sake, I concede that there have been some “effective leaders” with horrible character. One only needs to think about the likes of Adolph Hitler to see so. What we are thinking about in this article are leaders that want the best for themselves, their organizations and their communities). In big ways, and in little, “who the leader is” impacts their ability to lead.

Even those character traits that seem to be hidden – they have a habit of being revealed.

Cheat on your expense report? Nobody may ever find out. But slowly, over time, you begin to think about money differently. You develop a sense of entitlement. The company’s money is yours. You owe yourself. And slowly, you let financial compromise settle in.

Spend time looking at things on the Internet that you shouldn’t? You may cover your computer tracks well enough that no one ever knows. But it changes the way you look at the opposite sex. You lose the ability to see people for who they are; they become objects instead.  Your leadership is compromised.

Do you have a temper that you do a good job of concealing at work? These types of things have a habit of being revealed. Like in traffic, when you cut in front of “that idiot going slowly in the fast lane.” Only to discover that he is a co-worker.

What kinds of leadership black holes are lurking in your life? How will they impact your ability to influence?  What do you need to bring to the light so it doesn’t derail your leadership effectiveness?