In today’s BBTL book entry, Chet spoke of his need to “flip the script” in order to suit his approach to the needs of his client. As he put it, “A leader is not judged by how much he or she knows, but by how much the team learns.” And the team learns most if the leader is willing and able to adapt to the unique needs and nature of the individual and team. The leader’s challenge, as Chet puts it, is to be “flexible in style, while strong in your CORE… to be curious before challenging… to be versatile and varied.”
In their study of versatile leadership, Robert Kaplan and Robert Kaiser define leadership versatility as, “the ability to draw freely from two opposing sides and adjust their behavior as appropriate in any given situation.” But we humans tend to polarize ideas and approaches, leaning hard one way, as we discount or even dismiss the other. Task oriented or people oriented? Strategic or operational? Vision or execution? Forceful or enabling?
When it comes to style and approach, most leaders limit themselves and their teams with one dimensional, either/or thinking. But BTL leaders open up a world of possibilities for themselves and their teams with both/and thinking. And it’s precisely this open-minded mindset which enables BTL leaders to more comfortably toggle between styles and approaches, as they face a myriad of challenges and situations.
F. Scott Fitzgerald called it, “the test of a first-rate intelligence — the ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
How about you, leader? Are you versatile and varied, leading with an and/both mindset, and meeting your team where they are? Or are you too often one dimensional? What would your team say? That you’re too tough? Or too tender? Or, like Will’s leader… tough and tender?