The Goldilocks Zone

I have a coworker in search of the perfect chair.  With the state of my organization these days, there are plenty of chairs to choose from.  Recently I watched him roll chairs by my office, one-by-one in his search. Each chair got an audition and an eventually rejection.

As of today he is back to his old chair.  One that is not too hard or too soft.  A chair that fits just right.

As I watched the chairs wheel by I thought of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  You know the fairy tale … Goldilocks visits the empty house of the three bears.  She first tries their porridge and rejects one as too hot and another as too cold.  One bowl of porridge is just right and she eats it.  The same for three chairs. Only one is just right.   In need of a nap, Goldilocks tries the three available beds and picks the one just right for her, neither too hard or too soft.

My coworker, a Goldilocks of sorts, was that girl looking for the perfect chair.

Recently I heard the term, Goldilocks Zone, while listening to commentary on the Kepler Space Telescope.  This device allows Astronomers to search for planets orbiting distant stars.  They search especially for those planets that sit in the so-called Goldilocks Zone, not too hot and not too cold orbiting their own Sun.  A perfect place for life to exist.

Hum … love this term.  How can I apply it to my writing on leadership observations?  There has to be more than searching for the perfect chair.

As the Astronomers are doing, we in leadership roles are looking for that “habitual zone” in our organizations.  We strive to create a culture and environment that thrives, as a planet would in that perfect orbit.

That space outside of the habitual zone should also be our concern as leaders.  If our environment is too hot or too cold we all suffer.  On a more personal level, we know it is an issue is we lead with a hot or cold approach.  In fact I remember using those words to describe previous bosses.  We all know it is not a good place when you boss runs hot or cold.

Along with hot and cold we get soft and hard as further problem areas for a leader.  A soft, pushover leader is ineffective.  A hard and overly demanding leader is out of touch and will never get the best from his or her employees.

Just some musing today.  While I look up to the heavens and dream of far away planets existing in that Goldilocks Zone, I remember where I stand.  As leaders let’s create and nurture that space … not too hot or cold, not too soft or hard.

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