Leaders live in a constant state of tension.
They live between what is and what could be. They straddle the known and the unknown. They wrestle the probable with the possible. They balance status quo with innovation.
They have to understand where we are and yet convince us it’s worth taking the next step.
There are numerous tensions great leaders navigate each and every day. And living with these tensions is a tension in and of itself. This constant tug and pull stretches you to either expand and grow or to snap under the stress.
These tensions of leadership fascinate me. Well, really they frustrate me. But in studying that frustration, I’ve learned that identifying and naming these tensions allows me to see them as part of my leadership growth rather than a nuisance to avoid. I don’t think the tensions ever go away. Leading through these tensions is at the heart of what we do as leaders. It’s the essence of my “grey leadership theory”.
So for the next several weeks, we’ll discuss a specific leadership tension each Monday.
Here are some that I have on my list:
- Excellence vs. Perfection
- Intentionality/intensity vs. Passivity
- Tender vs. Tenacious
- Ownership vs. Stewardship
- Ambition vs. Self-control
- Who vs. What (in hiring)
- Criticism vs. Coaching
- Policies vs. Filters
- Transparency vs. Vulnerability
- Fans vs. Followers
- Head vs. Heart
- Communication vs. Bureaucracy
- Ownership vs. Control
- Independence vs. Co-dependence
What leadership tensions are you facing? Let’s add them to the list!