Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Adaptive leadership and thriving in the face of change 2: leading flexibly from a stable center

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 27, 2013

This is my second installment to a series that addresses the sometimes conflicting requirements of stable consistency as a leader, and the need for flexible adaptability as a leader – where both can become crucially important simultaneously and certainly at a time of rapid change, uncertainty or crisis. And in that, “crisis” can mean the sudden and compelling emergence of either problems or opportunities, where for failure to capitalize on and benefit from a sudden positive opportunity, your business might see that flip into becoming a problem for you instead. But the core set of issues for this series comes from the seeming dichotomy and the seeming contradictoriness of simultaneously remaining constant and stable while also remaining flexible and ready for change. The real question here is in knowing where and when and how to pursue each of these two basic approaches. And a failure in making those decisions and in effectively following through upon them leads to a variety of problems – problems that all come to be seen as failed leadership if not corrected and quickly. See Part 1 for the first part to this series.

As a starting point for this discussion, I will begin at the center and with that stable core. And I will begin that from a perspective that I first raised in Part 1. Leaders, and by that I mean effective leaders comprise a diverse group. Some are by nature more extroverted and some more introverted. They come to positions of leadership from as wide a diversity of functional area and skills sets backgrounds as you can find in the workforce in general. Some are very detail-oriented and some find a big picture approach much easier and much more natural to pursue.

• Manage and lead as yourself, but without demanding that others act as if clones of you. Allow for diversity and find value from it. But with that in mind, remember that everyone who works for your business, works for the same business, and with its one ongoing strategic vision and its policies and its goals and its priorities.
• Your core of leadership comes from within you. But it also comes from that central organizing fact. When you lead others a big part of your constant and reliable core come from just consistently pursuing excellence in promoting and advancing the organization that you lead, and according to the ongoing momentum of its mission and vision, as functionally laid out in its strategy and operations.

Would-be leaders who get too caught up in the little details and who lose track of the overall pattern and the larger vision get into trouble because they are always focusing on the wrong things and losing track of how all of those parts do and should fit together. So they come across as taking a disconnected and ad hoc approach to managing and leading. And for their ongoing and avoidable course corrections that they have to pursue as a result of their lack of effective focus, they probably are. Over-avoidance of the details carries equally problematical consequences as always taking too broad and “big picture” a perspective and never reality-checking your understanding by checking for real world consequences, can lead you astray, and your business too.

Finding the right balance between stepping back to take that big picture view, and stepping in to see the details of how strategy plays out in the real, day-to-day world is not always easy. But striving for that right balance can be a big part of keeping that overall strategy and overall goals and priorities in focus and effective – so you can be consistent in supporting and executing the right things. And with that, I go back to those two bullet points at the top of this posting to add a third:

• This is not simply about adhering to and championing the business’ overall strategy and operations as implementations of mission and vision. This is not just about hewing to the line in place in supporting current and ongoing goals and priorities fulfillment. This is about finding and actively pursuing and promoting the right strategy and operations and the right overall goals and priorities.
• And I add as a fourth bullet point here, what is best for them changes, and as necessary responses to both internal and external pressures and challenges. And that brings me to the issues of adaptability and resiliency and capacity to change.

I will continue this discussion from there in a next series installment, noting for now and in anticipation of that, that real leadership means enabling the people who you do lead to accept and work together in and thrive through change. Meanwhile, you can find this posting and related at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and the the first and second page of that directory. You can also find this in Social Networking and Business as I will be connecting this series’ discussion to postings and series offered there too.

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