These feel like challenging times. At the same time, our leaders appear to be more and more polarized. By this I mean the gulf between opposing sides is widening and the path forward is increasingly uncertain. The same is true in business. The world is becoming more complex and the right way forward is far from obvious.
Our leadership Challenges won’t get any easier
These are the leadership challenges of the 21st century, and I don’t think it is going to get any easier. It demands a new style of leadership which we call adaptive leadership. A style of leadership that recognizes we have to listen as much as we advocate. One that encourages experimentation to figure out the way forward. Where success is framed in terms of learning.
One thing I observe today is the unwillingness of leaders to compromise their points of view. In a complex system, one view is rarely accurate. It is one of many perspectives. The best leaders seek inputs from a wide variety of sources to decide how to move forward. Compromise is seen as a dirty word. It is associated with giving up.
LeadING in challenging times requires building bridges
I have a very different point of view on compromise. Rather than giving up, it is about connecting. Seeking to understand the other person’s point of view and then understanding the differences. What is it that they see that I don’t? Leadership is declaring a future others commit to achieve. We can’t tell others what to believe. We have to build a bridge from where they are today, to help them get onboard with our leadership vision.
If today’s leaders were willing to seek to understand the opposing point of view, what would the world be like? We wouldn’t need fake news. We wouldn’t be seeking to put down the other person. Instead, we would be valuing our differences as sources of innovation and new value.
Who are you in conflict with and what is it that they believe that you don’t? Why do they think that and why could they be right?