Leadership That Connects

In Building Bridges to the Future®, a business model which uses the Mackinac Bridge as the fundamental metaphor to understand business, the suspension cables represent leadership. Both suspension cables on a bridge and leadership in a corporation are visible from afar.

There are 41,000 miles of wire cable which have been “spun” into two 24½ inch-diameter cables to support the weight of the bridge spans – the road deck – and the traffic on the Mackinac Bridge. The coupling between the spans and the suspension cables is achieved through “suspender” cables, which are not visible from afar. But up close, it is very clear that they play a critical role in the function of the bridge.

These suspender cables are at the heart of the concept of Leadership that Connects.

While representing only 1,000 miles of steel wire in the bridge structure, where the suspension cables have 41,000 miles, it would be easy to overlook the importance of these gossamer-like connections which bind the operations and spans of the bridge to the suspension. Without this critical interaction and synergistic relationship between the suspension cables and suspender cables, the road deck will collapse. Which is more important: Suspension cables? Suspender cables? Both are equally important.

Leadership that Connects recognizes the need for critical interpersonal relationships, a strong unbroken linkage, to connect leadership with the front lines of a business enterprise. Where these interconnections permeate the organization, the linkage between leadership and bridge operations – the commerce, operations and lifeblood of the business – is strong.

Leadership that Connects reaches down from the lofty and heady heights of leadership to integrate the human element throughout the entire organization – from the customer to the board room.

The suspension cables that support the weight of the spans and traffic represent only 1% of the tonnage of the Mackinac Bridge. The suspender cables – at 1,000 miles – are approximately 2½% of the mass of the suspension cables … 0.025% of the mass of the bridge – only 25,000 tons of the 1,000,000 tons of components in the bridge, yet the suspension bridge spans and traffic will plunge into troubled waters without this critical element.

Leadership that Connects recognizes that what will never show up on the balance sheet or P&L statement – the strength of human relationships in an enterprise – will nevertheless have a very significant impact on the health and success of the enterprise.

Copyright © 2012 Executive Management Systems, Inc.

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