Several years ago Max (our then, nine year old) asked me to define potential vs kinetic energy. I did my best, but in Max’s eyes my definition fell short of his very much by the book definition.
As I pondered my scientific failure, I realized that is true leadership. As a leader and a mentor we must assist others in converting their potential ability into kinetic leadership.
Potential leadership: An individual can store leadership as the result of his/her position, but without necessarily expending any of it. Potential leadership is simply the capacity for leadership.
Kinetic leadership: This is leadership in action—getting things done and bringing vision to reality.
Or, from a biblical perspective, apprenticing others and converting potential to kinetic leadership looks like this:
Remove impurities from the silver
and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice;
Remove the wicked from leadership and authority will be credible and God-honoring. -Proverbs 25:4-5 (MSG)
As a leader, I believe all people possess potential leadership. The ability to find and help convert that potential leadership to kinetic leadership takes commitment, diligence, a true focus on others, and Greater Good (G2) leadership. We have to examine and understand people’s gifts, temperament, passions, successes, joys, and of course possibilities. Once we help people find those, we need to add encouragement, direction, and opportunities.
As we do this, potential is released into the kinetic, raising those around us to the highest possible level. Helping these folks be successful is more than just passing data, instruction, and skills. It is an apprenticeship. Understand that all have potential that must be released, and everyone wants to contribute. All simply contribute on different levels.
Qui-Gon Jinn: “A boy. His cells have the highest concentration of midi-chlorians I have seen in a life-form. It was possible he was conceived by the midi-chlorians.”
Mace Windu: “You refer to the prophecy of The One who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it’s this boy?”
Further, when we see potential (or a high concentration of midi-chlorians), it can go array. I talk a great deal about the Anakin Skywalkers in the work place. Anakin was the Promised One, but he turned dark. Those of us that have been doing leadership for a while have probably all had an apprentice that turned to the Dark Side after we spent time and effort turning their potential to kinetic leadership. But, as we grow wise, hopefully we are better at discerning one’s character.
Ponder Samson. He had it all as well…a special child with a divine destiny and purpose.
“…the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)
Samson never became the great leader he had the potential to be due to his despicable character. His character made him untrustworthy, and that destroyed his kinetic leadership. Samson was impetuous, volatile, lustful, moody, emotional, and unpredictable. He broke his vows, flirted with disaster, and disaster finally overtook him.
If we neglect to identify and apprentice the right leadership prospects, the best people will quickly become disgruntled, fail to turn potential into kinetic leadership, and we will find ourselves short of qualified future leaders; and where does that leave us? It’s up to us to assess, mentor, apprentice, and assist those around us to convert their potential into kinetic leadership.
“Ten good soldiers wisely led, Will beat a hundred without a head” -Euripides 400 B.C