As an organizational leader I am charged with providing a positive and inspiring outlook while maintaining a realistic perspective on challenges we must face. It is a delicate and complex set of dance moves to an ever changing mix of music if I am to lead well up the mountain (I think my mixing metaphors demonstrates just how complex it is).
Some people with whom the leader must work are skilled at listing what they consider dreadfully wrong and the scars they carry from being mistreated. They take pleasure in pointing out the small flaws of heroic achievements and the reasons why “it” cannot be done. Others look at the world through a hazy and dream-like filter where everything is good even when it is not. Their support for new projects isn’t necessarily helpful.
Whether co-workers choose to see life as a set of miserable circumstances, or a host of never-ending opportunities to chase without a realistic understanding of cost, these people are the people inside the organization, and with whom the leader must work. So, even if the leader has a strong dose of balanced reality, there is no guarantee the supporting team has it. Team members who bring a healthy dose of pragmatic and balanced realism are a gift.
The leadership balance as I understand it is to put what seem to be daunting challenges in front of people and then show it can be done.
Seemingly impossible, yes.
Beyond possible, no.
This means the leader must be a sober judge of character, ability, available resources and the dynamics of teamwork. The leader inspires to new heights, even untraveled ones, but works with her or his team to make sure the necessary resources are available to pioneer those new routes up the mountain.
These are my reflections as strategic directions are set yet again for the organization I serve.
-mark l vincent