Monday, December 5, 2016

How do leaders cope with prolonged uncertainty and having too much to do? - part #1

One big problem that is stretching leaders all across the country is that they are constantly on call. With the arrival of the smart phone, there is an expectation that people in leadership and management positions are 100% available, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and 100% committed to work above all else.

With this as the back drop to today’s work environment, and a major source of our uncertainty and stress, Wendy K. Smith, Marianne W. Lewis, and Michael L. Tushman in their article called “Both/And Leadership”, Harvard Business Review, May 2016, suggests we explore the following three questions:

- Are we managing for today or for tomorrow?

- Do we adhere to boundaries or cross them?

- Do we focus on creating value for our shareholders and investors or for a broader set of stakeholders?

What I find interesting given the above three questions is that while each of them are unique to the industry where one works, our responses are all the same, namely feeling overwhelmed, fear, frustration, confusion, helplessness, depression, and anger.

What is missing is a fresh perspective. Therefore, I suggest we embrace dynamic equilibrium, where we understand that our strategic paradoxes will always be present and changing, and that it is our job to find the place of balance within the motion.

To start this process, I suggest we check our perception of the world around us. There are two ways to “see” the world , according to Ryan Holiday in his book.  The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Penguin, 2014. The first is “The Observing Eye,” where we see what is actually there. The other is “The Perceiving Eye,” where we see more than what is there. As leaders, our goal is to see these things as they really are, without any of the ornamentation. The most dangerous perspective or perception to hold is one where we think we can change something that is not ours to change. 

This week, embrace your challenges and practice seeing with your Observing Eye rather than just your Perceiving Eye.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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