You act quickly. So are you decisive, or just impatient? You act deliberately. Are you patient, or just indecisive?
Is it that you empower your people or abandon them? Do you give them clear and detailed direction or do you micromanage?
The same management principles can be interpreted in different ways. And they can be correctly applied, misapplied, over-applied or under-applied. So how can you be sure that you’re always applying the right principles to the right extent?
You can’t. The reality of management is that you’re constantly trying to determine the right course of action in a dynamic environment. So what principles can help you select and apply the right principles?
1) Walking a fine line. Sometimes it’s a matter of walking a fine line when applying a principle. You want to be patient, but not too patient. Decisive, yet not impulsive. You want to be consistent, but not inflexible. Flexible, yet not inconsistent.
2) Finding the right balance. Sometimes it’s finding the right balance in applying opposing principles. You want to be task-oriented but also people-oriented. Process-oriented and results-oriented. You want to rely on information but also intuition.
3) Understanding the situation. And sometimes it’s knowing which principle to apply when. There are times for autocratic decision-making and times for democratic decision-making. Times for rules, times for guidelines. Times for reason, times for emotion.
You can’t know all the answers in a complex, ever-changing environment (and don’t pretend to know). That’s why it’s important to wrestle with the choices. The art of leadership is managing the dynamic tension you face with these choices.
Manage the dynamic tension. Start now. Because as we all know, he who hesitates is lost. But then again, haste makes waste.