It’s a common scenario. A leader receives feedback on her communication style. She’s too direct, and sometimes harsh. Rather than working to style switch or adopt a softer approach, she resists the feedback. “I want to be myself. I don’t want to have to ‘sugar coat’ my words, besides I pride myself on 'saying it like it is'" she says. In this scenario, the leader feels forced to choose between being "direct and straight forward" or "weak and insincere." So, it's no wonder the feedback doesn't land and her behavior doesn't change. However, the leader is not seeing a complete picture. She is only looking at the upsides of her approach and the downsides of the alternative approach. What if she could see the upsides and downsides to both being direct and being gentle?
Like the leader in this scenario, we sometimes grapple with what appear to be an "either or" choice. There is another option -- a "both/ and" mindset. In other words, this leader can continue to be direct AND deliver her message with care. With this approach, she continues to leverage her strengths, she stays aligned to her values of being honest, and is adding to her effectiveness by being empathetic. Now when she delivers a dose of reality, others will actually hear it and appreciate the feedback.
My good friend and colleague, Halelly Azulay invited me to join her podcast and talk about Polarity Thinking. I recently completed a two-year mastery program led by Dr. Barry Johnson of Polarity Partnerships, and shared my perspective on this way of thinking. I admit, I drank the Kool-Aid. Not only do I live by this way of thinking and being on a daily basis but I've incorporated Polarity Thinking into all of our leadership programs to help leaders become more dynamic and less static. A dynamic leadership approach is one that is fluid, resilient, and universal across all domains of one's life. Dynamic leaders see the big picture, expect the unexpected, and effectively navigate through unsolvable problems both at work and at home.
Listen to the podcast now as I share several workplace examples that are sure to resonate—and may boost your effectiveness as a leader. You will walk away with insights and tips to broaden your view of everyday issues and overcome challenges. I'd love to hear what resonates with you - respond here, shoot me an email or send a tweet @LauraMendelow.