Juno Journal June 24'

JUNO Journal: June 2024

News & Views

The seven tensions of leadership

I file away great articles for future reference, as salient reminders, and to use to help clients in times of need. (Now and then a great article helps me frame and focus my mind here also.)

I had cause to reach into the files recently and pull this one up:

‘Every Leader Needs to Navigate These 7 Tensions’, written by Jennifer Jordan, Michael Wade, and Elizabeth Teracino, and published in the HBR back in February 2020.

Here’s a link but you may need a subscription to read it in full: https://shorturl.at/WSL0R

The salience is in the summary –
“In decades past, executives were usually taught to practice command-and-control leadership. Today they’re often advised to be more nimble, more adaptive, and less controlling. The truth is that most executives need to be able to move back and forth between those two leadership styles. This article looks at seven tensions that executives need to manage as they choose how to behave in different contexts.”

I can’t do justice to the full article here, but a headline on each of the seven tensions, for leaders and managers, follows:

The Expert vs. the Learner

Traditionally, leaders built their careers by developing deep expertise of some kind and demonstrating increasing levels of competence as they moved up the corporate ladder. In the emerging approach, leaders must accept that their specialized expertise is limited (in some cases obsolete) and be open to learning from others.

The Constant vs. the Adaptor

The traditional approach to leadership values decision-making, conviction and consistency; good leaders “stick to their guns.” By contrast, the emerging approach recognizes that in fast-changing environments, decisions often need to be reversed or adapted, and that changing course in response to new information is a strength, not a weakness.

The Tactician vs. the Visionary

The traditional approach to leadership calls for operational clarity and well-defined plans. The emerging approach suggests that leaders require a clear vision for where they want to go, without necessarily needing a concrete roadmap for how to get there.

The Teller vs. the Listener

The traditional approach to leadership calls for leaders to tell others what to do and how to do it. The emerging approach values listening carefully to others before deciding.

The Power Holder vs. the Power Sharer

The traditional approach suggests that leaders must lead from the top, make decisions, and take actions independently. In contrast, the emerging approach values empowering others to achieve goals.

The Intuitionist vs. the Analyst

The traditional approach suggests that leaders build up an “expert gut” to make intuitive decisions. By contrast, the emerging approach says that leaders should base decisions largely on data.

The Perfectionist vs. the Accelerator

The traditional approach asserts that leaders should take the time to deliver a perfectly finished product. The emerging approach calls for leaders to acknowledge that doing something quickly, and failing fast, is often more important than doing it perfectly.

I really like the article and its messages. The point I’d make here though, which is the same as the point I make to clients when discussing these tensions, and that is to see them as ends of continuums. A literal read might suggest a binary – either / or – approach.

As we often say here at JUNO adaptive challenges require adaptive approaches, and adaptive leaders.

‘Management Tip Of The Day’ – with thanks to HBR

Here’s some contemporary content on empowering your team to speak up lifted from ‘“How to Get Your Team to Actually Speak Up,” by Elaine Lin Hering.

We know from our experience at JUNO that If you want your employees to feel safe voicing their thoughts, it’s not enough to simply encourage them to speak up—you need to build a culture of transparency and trust. HBR helps with the ‘how’.

Express intent. Clearly communicate your desire for honest feedback. Say, “I want to hear how things are really going, not just what you think I want to hear.” Back this up with actions and support to show you value your employees’ input.

Use standard questions. Asking “What do you think?” can feel like a trap. Instead, use more specific questions like, “What are the pros and cons?” or “What works and what doesn’t?” This helps employees prepare and feel safer sharing their thoughts.

Discuss communication preferences. To make it easier for employees to share their ideas, ask them, “What channels of communication work best for you? Do you prefer speaking or writing? Real-time or asynchronous conversations?” This ensures their comfort and encourages participation.

Lend social capital. Amplify underrepresented voices by giving them the floor and publicly endorsing their insights. This proactive support disrupts biases and gives a platform to diverse perspectives.

Attribute work accurately. Recognize individual contributions to motivate and show respect for your team. Proper credit fosters a culture of appreciation and transparency—and ultimately incentivizes people to speak their minds

Tiny Thoughts, with thanks to Farnham Street

What is ‘hard work’?

Just because results are not visible doesn’t mean they are not accumulating. Attention isn’t free. It’s the most valuable thing you spend.

What looks like skill is often consistent discipline.

From TED This Month

We are staying with the pilot this month – ‘a short thought-starter’ from the land of TED Talks.
This one is a decade old now, but still fresh – ‘The power of imagination: Lessons from Shakespeare’, for a change of pace.


JUNO Graduations, Mock Interview Workshops & Client Celebrations for the month

Thank you for reading JUNO Institute’s News and Views

We’ve been helping clients and partners, and transforming lives in the process, for over two decades. We are always ready to help you tackle your next challenge.

Please contact us at JUNO at any time on anything and everything connected to your Leadership Development and Coaching agenda.

Contact JUNO here: Phone: +61 3 9866 7993; Mobile: +61 4 0854 3320 or send me an email directly at placey@junoin.com.au

Until July, Paul

Share the journal
Get the Journal direct to your inbox

For first access to our journals, regular updates and communications from Juno subscribe to our newsletter. Goodness, straight to your inbox.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.