Issue Number 8: Leadership and Flexibility

There are often many ways to solve a problem, and the approach you take can send a very clear message. If you insist on doing things your way, the message you send is you think you know more than everyone else, and you do not need their suggestions. They will understand that and stop suggesting, leaving you to solve everything.

By being flexible, you encourage people to contribute suggestions and you show respect for their ideas and for them as individuals. The key is to emphasize results over process. And if you happen to be a flamingo, you can be exceptionally flexible while standing on skinny legs and webbed feet.

This goes hand-in-hand with your recognition of and appreciation for collateral damage. You may know a better way to do something. You may even know the best way. If you are an exceptional leader, however, you also know people prefer to do things their own way, and there may be a price to pay for having someone do things your way instead of their way.

You have to operate within a reasonable set of boundaries, to be sure, but it is important to consider the consequences of insisting on people doing things in a way that limits their creativity. If you can find ways to demonstrate flexibility within those boundaries, you will be able to take advantage of the gifts each person brings.

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