Magnet and Vacuum

One of the greatest blessings of my life is that I get the privilege of having some extraordinarily interesting conversations. Such happened this morning. I will keep the identity of my conversational partner secret. I will, however, divulge a point made in our talk, one that I find highly intriguing. You might, too.

The point was this–there is a difference between a magnet and a vacuum. Think about that for your leadership for a moment.

We were discussing current politics in a somewhat historical context. Given the predicted outcome of this fall’s congressional elections, it seems likely that President Barack Obama will be faced with a choice in 2011–will he “tack to the center like Clinton did in 1994” or will he hold to his positions which I think most people would agree have been mostly on the “left” of the political spectrum.

Here is the moment of the magnet and vacuum. Right now, the Tea Party is acting much like a magnet, drawing people and events to it. If that changes, there will be a vacuum and as the aphorism goes, nature abhors a vacuum–meaning that some other “force” will fill it and exert a magnet-like attraction to many of the things around it.

Set aside your personal political preferences for the moment (I’ll do the same). Have you recognized the existence of a magnet in your life as a leader? Have you recognized the existence of a vacuum? What are the differences between a magnet and vacuum in your understanding of leadership?