Consider any manufactured product. When something is flexible, it can withstand certain levels of influence and not break, shatter or become inoperable. Flexibility allows it to last longer, endure, and continue to work well into the future. Rather than resist the forces coming at it, it engages with that energy and absorbs or deflects it in a non-harmful way. The longevity of products is built upon the physical engineering of flexibility.
Strong leaders are flexible, too. Today’s society is complex. Technology and social networking is blurring the line between our personal and professional lives. Everyone is taking more interest in societal issues and in creating change, not only for society, but also for the larger global community as a whole.
Today’s problems are more complex and the consequences of our actions more influential. We can barely predict what will happen in our lives a mere 24 hours from now. The only thing we can be certain of is change – and a lot of it. This is the normal, everyday operating environment of today’s leader.
He or she must be quick-thinking, open-minded, and most important, flexible to all that is happening around them. Leaders must be able to understand and assess situations in minutes, not months. They must be able to modify plans, rally their teams, and change a course of action on a moment’s notice. The ability to do this, and to do it well, depends on their ability to be flexible.
Equally important is the ability to be flexible when it comes to thinking or being open-minded to adopting new attitudes, ideas, or points of view. Flexibility allows one to go with the flow, to keep stress levels manageable, and to maintain relationships with others that are critical for overall success.
If you want to be a leader, you need to learn how to be flexible. If you want to be a successful leader, it’s mandatory.
In what ways are you flexible when it comes to your leadership style? Are there any areas where you could institute a more flexible approach? What are the benefits of being more flexible for you and the organization you lead? What’s one thing you can do this week to take you leadership to the next level?
“The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate.”
–Harry A. Overstreet
Tara Kachaturoff is the creator, producer and host of Michigan Entrepreneur TV, a weekly television talk show featuring business leaders and businesses from start-up to stellar. With over 15 years of experience in corporate finance in the tech sector, she now coaches executives, business professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, management, productivity, and marketing issues. Tara is also the author of 21 Qualities of a Leader from which this article is excerpted.