By: Jeff Lugerner
In our earlier post we mentioned our work with Kaplan and Kaiser the authors of the book The Versatile Leader. Today we would like to open up for discussion the concept of leadership versatility.
From our perspective leadership versatility is the capability to flex as needed on a pair of opposing leadership virtues. We work with leaders to aspire to versatility in a two-sided sense. For example being direct and respectful of people’s feelings or if you are a team leader who doesn’t hesitate to provide direction can you remember to perform the complementary function of asking for other’s input?
All of us over time develop a bias and hence a preferred behavior or mindset that would impact the examples above. We tend to then either over-use and/or under-utilize those leadership behaviors. This translates to leaders getting out of balance and in some cases “lopsided”. “Lopsidedness” occurs when a leader combines extreme over-use of one strength in combination with the complete disregard for it’s leadership opposite. The classic example is someone who is very strategic/visionary and on the flip side pays no attention to how their vision will get operationalized. In a very real sense the dominant preference crowds out the weaker side.
So here is an exercise to try on right now. Think about your very preferred ways of leading…a list of one word adjectives. Follow that up with identifying the complementary opposite of each of those preferred behaviors.
Take note of how long/hard it is for you to come up with the opposites. More importantly ask yourself how frequently do you call on these non-preferred behaviors in your leadership role?
When we are coaching we frequently ask our clients to think “volume control”. The idea is to get the “volume” right, for example, neither pushing too hard nor not hard enough.
In our next post we’ll talk about strategies/tools to bring more versatility to your leadership.
We’re interested in your thoughts on this subject so please be in touch.
Jeff and Karen