Navigating the tension between two contrasting qualities takes maturity. Leaders tend to be tenacious or kind, for example, but not both.
Either/or is easier than both/and.
The ability to be two things at the same time creates opportunity and extends influence.
The Ten Tensions of Leadership:
- Tenacity and kindness.
- Vision and openness.
- Kindness and candor.
- Passion and quietness.
- Analysis and initiative.
- Planning and people.
- Solitude and relationships.
- High expectations and helpfulness.
- Decisiveness and listening.
- Focus and flexibility.
Focus and flexibility.
Leaders who chase butterflies don’t get anywhere. Racehorse blinders – winkers or blinkers – enhance speed by preventing distraction.
If you plan to get somewhere, you can’t go everywhere.
Flexibility seems like a frustrating distraction. But, turbulent times require you to adapt as you go.
Conversation and topic:
Conversations quickly land in the ditch. They waste time. You walk away wondering what happened. Comments and contributions often seem disconnected, even distracting. It’s frustrating.
Display focus and flexibility during conversations. Stay focused on the topic but flexible as to input and outcome.
When comments seem distracting, ask how they’re connected. That’s being focused and flexible.
It’s not unusual for me to ask:
- What brought that to mind?
- How is that connected to our conversation?
- I don’t see the connection to the topic at hand.
- Why is that important to you right now?
Surprisingly, the reply often opens my mind. Their comment is connected but I didn’t see it.
Occasionally, conversations are hijacked. Someone has an agenda. In this case, stay focused.
- Ask for the connection to the topic at hand.
- If there is no connection, thank them for their input.
- Say, lets discuss that at a later time.
- Refocus on the topic at hand. Right now I need your input on….
Bonus: These comments and questions can be made kindly.
Where else must leaders stay focused and flexible?
How do you stay focused and flexible?