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Feeding your Leadership with Chopsticks

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you balance your creating and controlling skills. Reading time: 2:57

         What a slob! The first time he tried to eat with a pair of chopsticks he ended up with a splattering of sweet and sour  sauce  on his shirt.  No wonder.  He was trying to “manage” that morsel of Hunan chicken into his mouth. Later he learned he should have been leading it there.

         Those chopsticks helped him chew on a conundrum in leadership thinking:  do leaders manage or do managers lead? Yes and yes. Leaders do manage. And managers do lead. Like chopsticks, leadership and management work together –differently–but in tandem.

      Leadership and Management need each other to be both effective and efficient. They’re interdependent. One is dynamic; the other is steady.  Both are required in high performers.

       Read on to  see how you can more productively apply the Chopstick Model of Leadership  with your management skills.

          The concept of managing (stability) and leading  (flexibility) at the same time  is confusing to first-time supervisors or managers.  However, the chopstick metaphor puts it all into a more instructive perspective.

            After all, mastering chopsticks demands both stability AND flexibility at the same time as you can see  in the following  basic steps to eating with chopsticks: (1) Hold the lower chopstick firmly against your middle finger (for stability); (2) Hold the upper chopstick as you would hold a pencil and (3) Keep the lower chopstick steady (for stability) while moving the upper chopstick up and down (for flexibility).

    Two Sides of the Same Coin

            That dichotomy –one chopstick stationary and the other chopstick  moving—takes some  getting used to. Just like managing and leading–  two sides of the same coin. You need both skill sets to be effective in either discipline.  You need stability —planning, budgeting, organizing and controlling or management. And you also need flexibility —values, vision, creativity and  strategic positioning or leading.

       Here’s a little ditty to celebrate that duality of creating and controlling:  Ode to Chopsticks-Charmed Leaders. They feed off those who are

Both appealing and appalling
Both needy and greedy
Both terrific and horrific

Both solid and stolid performers
Both extreme and main stream
Both trouble makers and trouble shooters

Both shrewd and crude
Both classy and sassy
Both missionaries and mercenaries

Both historical and hysterical
Both eggheads and knuckleheads
Both Rhodes Scholars and road scholars

         Indeed that duel in duality can be  frustrating.  So, the next time you’re feeling frustrated, take a break.  Have lunch. Chinese.

         And lead. With your chopsticks.

              Today’s ImproveMINT

Deal with duality to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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