Anxiety in organizations is like a vortex – a whirling mass with suction capable of drawing into its current everyone that surrounds it.  I’ve experienced the vortex firsthand in my strategic consulting work.  I’ve learned that the vortex exists when leadership is absent or insufficient.  More specifically, I’ve witnessed it swirl, suck and consume the energy of individuals and groups who feel incapable of acting on their own behalf (and that of their organization) to improve a situation.  When this happens, one of two factors is at play.  The executive is temporarily ineffective as a leader – perhaps s/he is feeling temporarily paralyzed by a novel or complex situation.  Or, the vortex of anxiety is an indicator of a deeper issue – the lack of skill and courage to lead change.   The next time you see or feel the vortex, ask yourself, “Is this situational or more substantial?  What can be done to stimulate leadership?”

The vortex of anxiety is powerful in its ability to consume significant amounts of time, energy and emotion.  One becomes preoccupied with the negative pull and is ineffective at driving change for the organization.  Keep a lookout for the vortex and dampen its power.  What’s required?  The realization that courageous leadership and action – perhaps a few key steps or a revitalized approach – are all that’s needed to replace the vortex with a positive force.

Vortex – a whirling mass of water, especially one in which a force of suction operates, as a whirlpool; drawing into its current everything that surrounds it