Effective leaders are able to manage paradox – concepts that are seemingly at odds with each other. They are able to understand and navigate the nuances that determine success or failure in the real world.
Here are 4 paradoxes that effective leaders effectively manage:
1) You can be a kind, caring, compassionate person and hold people accountable
Many leaders don’t hold their people accountable because they don’t want to be thought of as mean or cold-hearted. Yet being mean or cold-hearted isn’t determined by whether you hold people accountable, it’s determined by how you hold them accountable. Acting with contempt, bullying, or yelling would be mean and cold-hearted. Acting with respect, and demonstrating support – all the while being clear and direct about expectations – conveys just the opposite.
2) You can have a strong ego and not be an egomaniac
All leaders need strong enough egos to confront difficult situations, take risks, and make hard decisions. The question is, “Are you in control of your ego or is your ego in control of you?” If you’re in control of your ego then it’s okay to not have all the answers, to be wrong, to accept responsibility, and to be vulnerable. But if your ego is in control of you, then you’re likely to be an egomaniac – hoarding credit, justifying your mistakes, and blaming others.
3) You can be measured and decisive
Being measured doesn’t mean being wishy-washy or middle-of-the-road. It means calibrating your response to the situation at hand. Extreme when needed, moderate when needed, fast when needed, slow when needed. And being decisive doesn’t mean always making a fast decision or an extreme decision. But it does mean being able to make a timely decision. So you can be both decisive and measured.
4) You can make decisions based on information and intuition
With everyone talking about analytics, it might seem obvious that decisions should be driven by information. Yet that assumes that information comprehensively and accurately captures what we need to know to make good decisions. That assumption rarely holds true. Intuition, which is often subconscious knowledge based on experience, can offer insights that information may not speak to. Both should have a seat at the decision-making table.
Many paradoxes are actually false paradoxes. Don’t automatically default to “either-or” thinking. Effective leaders think “and”.
Make it happen.