Today is the 20th Anniversary of my 30th Birthday. (You do the math). Over the past month or so, I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and where I’m headed. So, in the spirit of reflection, here are the five big leadership lessons I’ve learned:
- Have a dream, but don’t hold so tightly to the dream that you can’t face reality. Dreams provide meaning and motivation, but sometimes they hold us back from making necessary changes.
- Have a plan, but don’t hold so tightly to the plan that you can’t adapt in the face of a changing situation. Plans are necessary, but need to be flexible.
- Make things happen, but not so quickly that you make mistakes. Taking time to think actions through and consult with others helps you avoid making mistakes.
- Collaborate with others, but not at the expense of your identity, beliefs and knowledge. Playing nice with others is important, but caving-in can be a disaster.
- Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, but not to the point of self-indulgence. Knowing yourself is important, but it doesn’t make you the centre of the universe or more important than others.
As I look at these lessons there is an underlying theme – that of tension. When we talk about leadership, we often talk about extremes, be the most caring, visionary, (insert trait or behaviour here). But in my experience, the best leaders balance the tension between two behaviours, they don’t try for the extremes. Finding the right leadership balance is extremely difficult. And perhaps that is why truly skilled leaders are so hard to find.