Tensions Between Flexibility and Inflexibility

Inflexibility is a security blanket for weak, fearful leaders, but too much flexibility creates instability.

Flexibility feels dangers when you doubt yourself or the team.

going around

Inflexibility feels safe. The playing field stays the same. Even if results are disappointing, it’s better to stay the course than face the uncertainty that change implies.

Inflexible leaders push forward when it’s wiser to adapt. As frustrations go up, energy goes down.

Inflexibility demoralizes; adaptability energizes.

Inflexible leaders:

  1. Punish mistakes rather than learn.
  2. Prefer command and control. It’s their way or the highway.
  3. Expect ownership but get compliance.
  4. Wonder what’s wrong with others.
  5. Feel inadequate and vulnerable when things go wrong.
  6. Need to be the most competent member of the team.
  7. Reject highly talented teammates because they are threats.
  8. Won’t recruit and develop others.
  9. Feel unappreciated and misunderstood.
  10. Don’t listen.

Bad flexibility:

Teams stop trying when today’s decisions are constantly reversed tomorrow. Eventually, drifting sets in. Why try if we’re just going to change?

Flexibility frustrates when it goes too far.

Flexibility regarding mission and vision makes everyone wonder where you’re going.

Uncertainty prevents boldness.

Allowing behaviors that violate culture and values weaken organization and leadership’s credibility.

Always be inflexible regarding values and culture.

Good flexibility:

  1. Adopt new methods even while clinging rigidly to organizational vision.
  2. Reassign people in order to better utilize their strengths.
  3. Eliminate ineffective, inefficient programs. Have the courage to ask what isn’t working and what might work better.
  4. Respond to recurring frustrations by adapting as you go.
  5. Remove dead weight from the team.
  6. Streamline policies and procedures that are outdated or irrelevant hindrances.
  7. Remain open to new ideas. Listen. Ask  questions. What happens if we adopt this suggestion?

Flexibility re-energizes. Rigid leaders push others out and close their ears by default.

What are the differences between good and bad flexibility?

How can leaders be flexible in ways that create energy?