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