8. October 2022

Mastering Your Inner Leadership Game – 7 Paradoxes

In a transformation journey, it is important to manage paradoxes all the time like ‘short term and long term’, ‘strategy and execution’, ‘global and local’ etc. In this context, I like the recent article in strategy+business by A. Bryant and K. Sharer titled ‘Can you master the inner game of leadership?’. They highlight 7 leadership paradoxes:

  1. Be confident AND humble. Leaders must have a clear vision and radiate confidence. However, confidence must not turn into blindness or overconfidence. Appropriate humility is key as well.

  2. Be urgent AND patient. It’s a balancing act between now, soon, and later. Going forward with speed is important as well as to recognize when to slow down to bring people along and make sure the proper processes and resources are in place. 

  3. Be compassionate AND demanding. On the one hand, leaders need to set the bar high to drive progress and performance. However, a team is made up of human beings who also face personal demands and challenges. Compassion is not about being soft; it’s about acknowledging that we are human.

  4. Be optimistic AND realistic. Leaders are expected to be optimistic, to build energy and enthusiasm. However, the balancing act is to also share the risks, build contingencies and create awareness of challenges.

  5. Read the weather AND set it. To systematically learn what people in the organization are thinking and saying, it is key to get a sense of the mood. However, leaders also need to set the right mood through their body language, tone of voice, and energy.

  6. Create freedom AND structure. It is key to strike the right balance between a well-structured and orderly organization and the ability to have a certain degree of chaos, which is necessary for new ideas to emerge.

  7. Be selfless AND focus on your well-being. This will ensure that you have the stamina to give your best in every encounter, through days of back-to-back meetings with various groups. Taking enough time for reflection, rejuvenation, health, etc. is also a balancing act.

Do you recognize these paradoxes? Which other paradoxes do you experience?

The Power of Co-Elevation

In a transformation, it is key to create high-performing teams that cut across reporting line structures. In this context, I very much like Keith Ferrazzi’s

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