Every day in every way our world requires us to change. Every second of any given day, time changes, we change, the sun moves across the sky and the moon follows in orbit. Life demands change. Once accepted, every single day must be seen as a new day with limited resources. While resources are always limited, resourcefulness is not. There are people to meet and new ways of looking at what we are doing and who we are doing it with. There lies in each day opportunities to build stronger relationships with the people we work with and for. We can seek more effective methods, and we can open our eyes wider to the skills and talent within the people around us by an openness to do so. To support an environment of change, flexibility is key. Without flexibility, people become stuck, leaders become burned out, employment claims are filed, accident and injuries are suffered, and businesses eventually fail.
It takes mental flexibility to meet and overcome obstacles that happen every day in our business life and in leading people. We must, as leaders, possess limberness and have range of motion. Leaders are continually required to stretch mentally as they solve problems and find creative solutions in complicated issues. Mentally flexible leaders look for ways to serve the people they lead that helps the organization meet goals and work efficiently and effectively. Here are a couple examples of inflexibility in leading people that I have seen:
- Manage by proxy- set up a system of rules, then manage the rules
- Micromanage- take away any ability of team members to have or express ideas
- Move from leader to mentor- appear flexible but lack strength to protect the organization in motion
An individual who is flexible will demonstrate a willingness to change. Leaders lacking flexibility will be rigid in their responses. Inflexible leaders engage in behaviors you can recognize and should challenge. To protect their lack of flexibility and range of motion, some will lead by proxy. They set up a system of rules, then mange the rules. The rules are to protect their lack of mental strength and emotional stability. When the rules are violated and not followed exactly, they fall apart. They become angry and retaliatory and see all deviation as threat. Others will micromanage, so every incremental second of the day, only that which they want done and can handle is allowed. They neither want or need input from their team. They are rigid and fixed, immature and undeveloped. Their treatment of the individuals who work with them each day robs an organization of necessary resources that can protect profits through limberness and range of motion. All the while, the ineffective leader attempts to protect themselves from discomfort. This sets up a system where talent will walk out the door if they can, and constant power struggles will ensue with individuals on the team refusing to be treated as incompetent and unable. The rest of the team under the micro-manager will do less and less, waiting ever patiently to be asked for more.
The third way you may recognize behavior of a leader lacking mental flexibility is that they move away from management and leading, and move toward mentoring. This leader appears flexible, but they have not developed strength to support flexibility and range of motion. They become mentors and cease leading by decision-making. They, in effect, lead from behind. In time, these leaders can take an organization into an area that drains profits and wastes resources. The road that got them there may have been a good idea someone they manage had, and without proper vetting and strategic planning, it becomes draining to the organization. It wastes time and resources and takes them away from critical needs, organizational effectiveness, and nimbleness.
Flexibility is developed as a leader, and in us as organizations, as we demand of ourselves, openness to change. This openness to change builds strength. Strength will lead to greater mental flexibility which supports change. In the end, a strong and flexible leader develops skills and abilities that help them endure. Endurance is the courage to continue. In closing, with strong hearts and minds we must understand the burden of leadership- leading and managing organizations of trained and capable individuals, given opportunity to succeed for themselves and for their families – The Winning Way™
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