The Kite And The String: A Crucial Lesson For Leaders

Jacob Morgan
4 min readJun 12, 2024


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A few days ago I was listening to a podcast with Tom Bilyeu and Konstantin Kisin. The conversation wasn’t really focused on business but a few themes business themes came up and one of them was the idea of the kite and the string which is an amazing analogy.

As Tom mentioned during the interview, in business we typically have the visionary innovators and then we also have those who are good at executing and getting things done. Oftentimes the visionaries look at the executors and think “you should be a visionary like me” and the executors look at the visionaries and think “you should be an executor like me.” They both approach business from their own unique lens oftentimes not realizing that they need each other in order to be able to achieve their goals and see success.

Another way to think about this is that every leader needs to be able to have vision and execute, so the string and the kite are two sides for a single leader.

This is my preferred version and we see several great examples of this in today’s world including Elon Musk (although it can be argued he needs more control), Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Judy Marks (Otis Elevator), Barbara Humpton (Siemens U.S.), Deb Cupp (President Microsoft U.S.)

The kite symbolizes the leader’s vision, creativity, and aspirations. It is the driving force behind the organization or team’s direction. A good leader must be able to inspire and motivate their team by setting ambitious goals and painting a clear picture of the desired future state.

The string represents the leader’s control, guidance, and connection to the team. It is the practical aspect of leadership, which includes setting expectations, providing resources, monitoring progress, and being able to execute on the vision. A leader must ensure that the team remains grounded in reality, and that they are on track to achieve their goals. The string also represents the leader’s ability to create stability and security in times of uncertainty.

I like this analogy because it points out the fact that balance exist between vision and control, creativity and practicality, aspirations and results. Just like flying a kite, a leader must allow the kite to soar high enough to achieve its full potential, while still maintaining a firm grip on the string to guide it in the right direction and prevent it from crashing.

If a leader lets go of the string, the kite (vision) might drift aimlessly or crash. On the other hand, if the leader holds the string too tightly or doesn’t give the kite enough room to fly, it may never reach its full potential.

A few things for you to consider as a leader:

Get really good at articulating and communicating your vision: It should be ambitious enough to inspire and motivate your team, yet realistic enough to be achievable.

Provide guidance and control: This might involve setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback, and establishing a structure or process for your team to follow.

Lead by example: You set the tone for your team. Demonstrate the behaviors and the values you want to see from others. Think of this as leading the kite in the direction you want to go, the kite is your team.

Adapt and adjust: Just like flying a kite, leadership requires constant adjustments based on the changing conditions. You need to be able to adapt your leadership style to different situations and adjust your strategies based on the feedback you receive and the results you observe.

If you are able to be the string and the kite and balance vision with execution then you will be able to create an environment where innovation thrives, goals are realized, and teams are motivated to strive for even greater heights.

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Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work