Water resistance is a key specification for watches. This applies to mechanical, quartz or fully electronic devices like an Apple Watch.
The determinant of this rating is hydrostatic pressure, or as our Swiss watchmaking friends would say, “pression hydrostatique.” This is the pressure of a fluid at rest due to the weight of the fluid above it.
Watches are designed for a specific hydrostatic pressure, which is then translated into a depth rating of meters or feet, which is easier for daily use.
A common misconception is that a watch is water “proof” to its rating, rather than water “resistant.” This, however, is not the case.
That is because hydrostatic pressure does not account for sudden changes in the environment around it.
If you are swimming, for example, and you jump off a diving board into the pool, the peak pressure that actually impacts your watch is equivalent to a much higher static pressure.
As leaders, we face similar dynamics.
Individuals, teams, volunteers, systems, processes and entire organizations need to be designed with the ability to withstand and thrive in the midst of these peaks.
These changes require capacity. In our watch example, you create that capacity by not pushing the rated depth limit. Or, you build to a higher rating.
If we fail to consider this, the defensive reality is that we lose impact when outside pressures bear down on us.
The offensive reality is that we have no reserves left to push forward and take new territory.
Additionally, in leadership and in life, a completely static environment is a myth. The idea of “standing still” is really a slow deterioration over time.
When constantly operating at the edge of capacity, performance degrades. When constantly pushed past capacity, collapse ultimately ensues.
Now, think through the situation or situations where you have leadership responsibility.
Next, define your operating environment and its surrounding pressures. What pressures or changes do you need to be prepared to face?
Then, assign a capacity percentage rating to the above areas – you, your team (including volunteers), your organization, your systems, your processes and your organization.
The goal – determine how close you are to your maximum.
Use whatever scale you’d like, but just for fun today I’ll use the common water resistance ratings for watches.
The higher your water resistance, the more capacity and resilience you possess. Or, the deeper you can safely go.
Here is a typical scale for watches:
10 meters – these watches can withstand light splashes, sweat, and light rain, but they are not suitable for submersion. Underwater, they’re toast.
30 meters – these watches can withstand splashes, brief immersion in water, or exposure to rain, but they should not be continuously submerged.
50 meters – these watches are suitable for swimming, showering, and recreational water activities, but not for diving or snorkeling.
100 meters – these watches are suitable for swimming, snorkeling, and light recreational diving. They can handle more water pressure and are generally more robust.
Dive (100 meters plus) – watches labeled as dive, divers or diving are purpose built and must conform to ISO6425, which requires 25% over pressure testing and proof of results.
To be successful, your environment may not require a divers rating. But every aspect of your leadership should be rated.
Also be mindful of different ratings – for example, your team may be diver tough, but your organization may only rate 30 meters.
Creating capacity is a necessary condition for sustainability and growth, but not a guarantee.
What you do with the capacity you create is up to you.