In his 30 years of asking this question, Wharton Business School Professor Stew Friedman has heard one word become increasingly common: Flexible
Elements of Flexible Leadership
What does it mean to be flexible as a leader?
- capable of bending easily without breaking; able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances.
What context do we need to know in order to easily adjust our plans and strategy to altered circumstances?
Flexibility requires Context
In order to be consciously flexible as a leader, you must have clear the relative value of different aspects of your life. As a leader of teams, you need to help others develop their own clarity and explicitly use it in your decision making.
Dr Friedman says that too many people take a binary approach. They take for granted that professional and personal are two ends of a weighing scale. Increase one, reduce the other.
This is not a straight trade off. This trade-off approach leads to unnecessary sacrifices.
In Vistage, our stated mission is to increase both profesional effectiveness and enhance quality of life. We place both at the core of the question. We don’t want your life quality sacrificed for professional effectiveness, nor vice versa. We want a conscious integrated decision.
The key of flexible leadership for yourself and for those around you is to get clarity in 3 ways:
- Be Real
- Be Whole
- Be Innovative
What does it mean to “Be Real”?
- You know what matters to you
- You live in accordance with your values consistently
- Your daily actions are aligned with values
- You can communicate values with personal stories
- You can describe your legacy
- You hold yourself accountable before all others
What does it mean to “Be Whole”?
- You are good at clarifying expectations
- You help others
- You build supportive networks (you cannot live a good life on your own: without peers, coaches, mentors)
- You apply all of your resources effectively
- You manage boundaries intelligently (sometimes firm, sometimes loose)
- You weave disparate strands of life together
What does it mean to “Be Innovative”?
- Your focus is on results
- You resolve conflicts among domains
- You continually challenge the status quo
- You seek new ways of doing things (crowdsourcing solutions, ask for help)
- You embrace change courageously
- You support innovation attempts by others
Video: Dr Stew at Google
How Flexible is your Leadership? What areas are clear, unclear for you? What action will you take?