Over the past few weeks, I have caught a sudden interest in basic auto repair; thanks in large part to a series of challenges we are having with our minivan. From faulty air conditioning, to blinkers that blink when they want to, it seems the list of repairs grows by the month as our minivan approaches the 200,000 mile mark.

Although (thankfully) neither appears to be something we have to do on our next checkup, I have been intrigued by the differences between wheel balancing and wheel alignment. Although commonly mistaken for each other, the effects they can have on a car are very different indeed; effects that have several leadership lesson hidden deep within.

The primary purpose of a wheel alignment is to ‘prevent uneven tire wear in order to keep a vehicle driving in a straight line.’ Whenever cars, despite the driver’s efforts to steer otherwise, are consistently ‘pulling to one side,’ it is apparent that there is a wheel alignment problem.

This problem lies not with the wheels, but rather with the angle of the camber or caster they are connected to that often needs to be addressed in order for a car to be realigned.

When it comes to the decline of an organization, or perhaps its inability to reach an intended goal, I am often amazed at how many leaders find it easier to focus their frustration on the wheels God has placed around them, rather than the angle of the camber they have set for their organization.

It has sadly become far easier to replace a flawed leader with a new one, rather than to correct the flaws of the vision they are connected to.

However, when it comes to wheel balancing, the problem often lies with an uneven distribution of mass within the tire, which is often just a result of time and extensive rotation. Once a tire becomes unbalanced, it causes the steering wheel, or perhaps an entire vehicle, to shake uncontrollably. No matter how gifted a leader can be, there will always be the need for a balance inspection.

Without providing one with the margin for personal repair and inspection, a leader can begin to just rotate from department to department, causing an entire organization to steer off course.

It’s no wonder why mechanics have such job security. Very few are willing to take the time to learn how to do their own repairs. The job is just not glamorous enough.

Balancing vs. Alignment

Category: Leadership
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