Man on wire

Are you walking the leadership high wire?

On a summer day in 1974, a 24-year-old Frenchman stepped onto the world stage with one of the most astonishing performances in modern history, walking back and forth on a wire illegally rigged across the void between New York’s World Trade Centre Towers, three-quarters of a mile above spellbound onlookers. (Ref. Man on Wire)

A nice analogy for leadership is that of a high wire walker or ‘funambulist’. The rope or wire can represent strategy: the direction of movement to a clear objective on the other side. To successfully execute the strategy (wire), the walker must achieve balance in the sideways, horizontal and vertical directions. Not balancing along the horizontal will lead to a fall; not remaining strongly upright – an analogy for values and determination – will create bounce or instability in the wire or strategy, likely leading to a fall. Finally, in this analogy, the wire walker has to move and continue to move no matter the direction and strength of the wind.

Imagine you are the funambulist, whether you are an individual leader, team leader or organisational leader. Most leaders will recognise that there is a gap between what they want to achieve and what they anticipate their organisation can deliver. This aspiration gap becomes larger during times of uncertainty and change.

While business environments are dynamic, most organisations are less so, and long term success tends to be less resilient to change. By bridging the aspiration gap, organisations with a foundation of competency can become more resilient and agile as they build frameworks to recognise and adapt to change.

“As an innovation coach, one of the great conundrums facing leaders is a question of balance – doing things right for today, and doing the right things for tomorrow.”
Allan Ryan

It is more important than ever for a leader to balance issues to deliver strategy and meet objectives successfully in our current uncertain environment. This means balancing the questions:

  • ‘Are we doing things right for both today and tomorrow?’ and
  • ‘Are we doing the right things?

In addition to this question of balance, a leader needs to strategically position the organisation by being reactive to short-term demands and proactive around long term positioning. When leaders don’t achieve this balance, they can be drawn into just becoming ‘fire fighters’ of smaller or less relevant reactive issues.

The challenge is to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality by building competency, resilience and agility.

How do you address ‘THE QUESTION OF BALANCE’?

ReactiveProactive
Are we doing the right things?RESILIENCEAGILITY
Are we doing things right?FIRE-FIGHTINGCOMPETENCY

Hargraves Innovation Coaching develops leaders and empowers team members with practical skills to engage key stakeholders, influence outcomes and improve performance, productivity and growth – for today and tomorrow.

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