Leap Forward by Combining Contrasting Qualities
The really great leaders display contrasting, even conflicting qualities.
Some are curious and decisive. Others bring creativity and execution together. Being tender and tenacious is another surprising combination.
Radically improve your leadership by bringing contrasting qualities together.
Use contrasting words to describe how you want to show up in your current context or next encounter.
- Curious and decisive.
- Empathetic and firm.
- Calm and energetic.
- Candid and compassionate.
- Open and anchored.
- Forward-facing and respect of the past.
- Irreverent and respectful.
- Creative and dedicated to execution.
- Affirming and dissatisfied.
- Frustrated and grateful.
Don’t temper contrasting qualities. You become bland and forgettable.
Bring contrasting qualities fully together. Don’t use curiosity to soften decisiveness, for example.
Frustration and gratitude.
Make a list of frustrations. Alongside, your frustrations, record expressions of gratitude.
Frustration – Mary lost a client. Gratitude – (What makes you thankful for Mary.)
Don’t soften frustration with gratitude. Take action with contrasting qualities fully present.
Affirmation and dissatisfaction.
Prepare three statements that bring affirmation and dissatisfaction together.
- I wonder where your tenacity will take you in the future. (Insert any positive quality.)
- That was fantastic. How might you get to the next level?
- I’ve seen you do better. What are you learning?
Creativity and execution:
Expect conversations to end with action steps that produce useful results. What’s the point if you aren’t taking action?
- What are we doing next?
- How might we put this into action this afternoon?
- Who’s going to champion this idea?
- When will the next step be completed?
- Let’s evaluate progress next Monday.
When leaders get better, the people around them get better. Become a better leader by being intentional about how you show up.
Which contrasting qualities do you find most useful/challenging/interesting?
How might leaders bring contrasting qualities together?
Dan as a CFO the people who worked for me noted another set of contrasting traits that I would think work for many technical areas like legal or engineering as well.
I would provide a big picture view of what I wanted them to do and then let them work. If they got it and accomplished the task great and they had learned to connect a lot of steps. If they needed help I would get into any layer of detail they needed to help them along.
Big picture and Detail.
I just finished reading “Wired to Create” by Neuroscientist Scott Barry Kaufman and writer Carolyn Gregoire. They talk about several contrasting qualities when it comes to being highly creative. For example, mindfulness and mind wandering, openness and sensitivity, solitude and collaboration, play and seriousness, and intuition and reason. I think creativity is an important part of leadership on a lot of levels. Interesting that the principle of embracing contrasting qualities applies so well to both leadership and creativity.