07.2013 - Leadership Versatility How Versatile are You?

Thanks to Good to Great many people use the bus as a metaphor for organizational success.  Getting the right talent in the right seats is central to success. 

But what about the bus driver?  What if the person in charge, the bus driver, gets the bus stuck?

Many people have experienced this at one time or another in organizational life -- leaders who get the organization stuck.

People who are stuck use one type of leadership approach and are often unaware that their blind spots are causing the organization to miss promising opportunities both internally and externally.  

So, how can leaders enhance their versatility?

Great leaders think about making the right moves.  They get lots of feedback from valued advisors and employees.  They work hard to discern how much or how little of a particular approach is needed at any given time.  They recognize that leadership behavior at either end of a polarity is likely to be ineffective and that any behavior that is stuck in one place along the continuum is just as likely not to work.

We humans have a tremendous capacity for getting stuck!  We keep using an approach that was, at one time, successful.  Are leaders you know stuck?  Are you stuck?   Below are a few dimensions to consider in terms of becoming a more versatile leader -- being able to read the terrain for what approach is most appropriate at any given time.


The Right Shots at the Right Time

I stopped thinking too much about what could happen and relied on my physical and mental ability to play the right shots at the right time.

Novak Djokovic


Versatility Along Five Dimensions People tend to have valences along the continua and get stuck. Where are you?

Ask yourself, "As a leader am I stuck on..."

1.  Over-structuring things or under-structuring them?

2.  Promoting change or preventing change?

3.  Over-analyzing or under-analyzing?

4.  Being politically astute or politically naive?

5.  Calming things down or stiring things up?

Where is the Next Generation of Leaders?

There is leadership scarcity in many organizations -- not enough people going through the pipeline of transforming from managing oneself to managing others. 

As leaders move through the development phases, they need to change the way they think. 

Few organizations have dedicated the resources necessary to help their emerging leaders make this change.

David Rock