For a long time, I’d been looking for a magic bullet to enable me to improve my leadership capabilities. Fourteen years ago I found it and now I want to share it with you.
What I learned is our strengths have the potential to turn into weaknesses if they are our sole focus. Additionally, this makes us vulnerable and compromises our effectiveness.
The magic bullet is about tapping the power of the “and.” This is an ability to see and act from two very different strengths simultaneously. While some of us were fortunate enough to be endowed with this exceptional ability to manage contradictions, most of us are more apt to fall prey to our own strong, singular instincts about what we see as the “right” way of doing things.
That’s the beauty of the method I use called Polarity Thinking, founded by Dr. Barry Johnson, just a few decades ago. Polarity Thinking provides an easy way to make visible and actionable what may have been hidden in the past.
Here’s a personal example:
Consider the strengths of candor and tact. As a leader, I am strongly motivated by my belief in candor. Because I see candor as a strength, I get right to the point when I speak with others so they always know where I stand. I want no surprises or hidden agendas. That feels really positive for me so I am completely candid.
The problem arises when I am so completely candid that I don’t pay any attention to something very different, yet needed, and that is the use of tact. Without tact, I run the risk of becoming “brutally honest.” My lack of tact diminishes my effectiveness by angering others or hurting their feelings. So to be effective, I need to be both candid and tactful – realizing the need for both in an on-going balance, regardless of my natural preference.
To develop a powerful game plan, start with the understanding and appreciation of your own natural strength and then expand your awareness to the existence of an interdependent strength.
You shine a light on your blind spot by seeing both strengths as interdependent, not separate. Most likely, the blind spot is what has been holding you back, maybe even causing you to repeat the same leadership mistakes. What’s key here is the ability to see a more complete picture of yourself that can result in performance you might never have imagined.