Monday, July 11, 2011

Remember your Munter Hitch - the Leadership safety net

The Munter hitch creates friction by having the rope rub on itself and on the object it has been wrapped around. There is no static friction on any part of the rope as it is a continuously moving knot. A key facet of the Munter is its reversibility; it can be pulled from either side of the rope and it still works just as effectively.
During such times of flux, employees, boards of directors and shareholders alike, all want to know: where's my safety net?

Does our leader know how to tie a Munter Hitch?

Is our leader able to belay us safely and gently, to a position where we can reassess our priorities, regroup our resources, and reascend the peak?

The key for leaders needing to implement the equivalent of the Munter Hitch in the workplace is the establishment of strong employee capabilities. Having an effective, enthusiastic and empowered workforce will enable organizations to glissade gracefully, identify opportunities for change and create competitive advantage in a slowing economy. An elite talent pool should have the determination, enthusiasm and ability to drive the business into increased revenue growth and market share.

The following key leaderships principles are central to creating such a Munter Hitch workforce during a downbeat economy.


An organization with an evolved culture of communication is well positioned to overcome skepticism and lack of self-confidence. It is crucial that leaders keep their managers engaged and positively-reinforced, especially at a time when many may have a tendency to "disconnect" due to business uncertainty, high workloads and stress.


Storyboard the organization's strategy and vision to make it more accessible to employees. Many will find a concrete example crucial in creating a mental picture of the organization's goals. This in turn engenders buy-in, commitment and ‘ownership’ within the workplace.


In uncertain times it is critical to manage change effectively and remain flexible in your attitude and approach. Challenge long-held business assumptions and practices. Taking a fresh perspective will enable you to focus on the daily execution of strategic priorities and help to maximize employee efforts and decision making in the midst of overwhelming demands.

Best foot forward 

Leaders must lead. They must provide purpose, direction and compelling values so that employees may envision a positive future. Direction must come from the top, but reach all the way down to front line staff who will ultimately pass on your positive vision to your customers.

But a strong vision is not enough.  it must be functional and memorable so that every employee will embrace it, living and breathing the vision through every task and action on a day to day basis.


  1. Surely the sheepshank makes a better analogy? Not only is it a knot of superior strength and holding power, but it allows ropes of different thicknesses to successfuly be united. The spectrum of thickness in most offices is a wide one and one key to succesful management is the ability to unite thick and thin to create a cohesive whole.

  2. Whilst many knots could metaphorize a business environment or practice, I'd posit that every office needs its own Munter.

    Although less attractive, less popular and more commonplace, as stated, the Munter's real draw is the fact that it is continuously moving and can be operated from both sides.