Criticizing or complementing?
Doubting or encouraging?
Analyzing or cheerleading?
Creating tension or diffusing tension?
Being easily influenced or holding firm?
Setting high expectations or letting it slide?
Driving to closure or being generative?
Adjusting based on others’ input or trusting our inner truth?
Demanding excellence at every moment or giving ourselves a break?
Stepping up or raising others up?
Laughing or crying?
The big con of school and of many jobs is the unspoken message that the way this works is: you learn a bunch of stuff—facts, figures, techniques, skills—and then you’re “good at your job.”
And then one day you open a new door and discover that the art of leadership isn’t about those kinds of skills. It is about how we can deploy, navigate and manage between and around these sorts of “ORs.”
We do this by becoming skillful at seemingly opposable dyads, so skillful that we can weave them together in unlikely ways.
We do this by fully embracing opposable attitudes, behaviors and orientations.
We do this by becoming nimble and flexible, while remaining clear and strong.
We do this, mostly, by showing up differently for different people in different situations, while also living a set of core truths, behaviors, and values.