There are several key skills within the Emotional Intelligence spectrum but there is one that remains critical to today's world - Flexibility. It seems we are all being asked to stretch, flex and push ourselves to do more, be more and accomplish more with less. This week's article provides suggestions for increasing our flexibility and to help others do the same.
Leading Others Through Ambiguity
Flexibility in the context of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is defined as: The ability to handle changing circumstances and expectations without disruption. Someone with high Flexibility can handle changing conditions and uncertainty while maintaining their productivity.
Yes, change makes all of us uncomfortable, so why do that to ourselves? Because the opposite of flexibility is rigidity and leaders and teams who demonstrate rigidity get left behind. Leaders who are closed-minded and resist spontaneity do not engage others. Instead, leaders must accept and implement feedback from others, not be easily annoyed or triggered, and remain open-minded and willing to experiment with different solutions. Leading others through ambiguity is a vital competency in today's world. And our human nature doesn't help: the more uncertainty around us, more we cling to what we know. When things feel out of control, we micro-manage more, which is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. When we tie others to old patterns, we tie ourselves as well. Remember that the prison guard is a prisoner too (see The Paradox of Letting Go).
If you are looking to increase your own Flexibility or lead a team to do that, here are some suggestions:
Don't attempt to change too much at once and remember that creating new habits requires mind, body, and heart to stick. Therefore focus on one thing at a time. We also know that change initiatives require minutes of attention every day versus focus during one week a year, or one day a month, or even one hour a week. As a leader, you set the tone. As you demonstrate more flexibility, you earn credibility and build a nimbler team.
Find the positive in fresh ways of doing things; the more you leave behind, the more room you have to explore something new.