While on vacation at Lake Michigan, we were warned to watch out for rip currents, a force of water that occurs away from the shore. Swimmers can get caught in the waves near a sandbar and feel the pull of water toward the center of the lake.

Instinctively, swimmers fight the current and attempt to head against it back to shore. While this may be their first reaction, it is the wrong one and will only serve to tire the swimmer. A far more effective response is to swim parallel to the shore until you are past the rip current and then you are able to return to the shore with ease.

I think rip currents occur in organizations, too – places where strong emotions or opinions bubble up and create disruptions all those in the area. You may feel trapped in the current of dissent and expend your energy fighting it. Better to take the counter-intuitive route and go about your business in a parallel fashion; ignoring the currents rather than getting sucked into the drama.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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