Ambiguity and ambidextrous leadership

This is kinda good, and ties in with ongoing concern re: mastery versus control, tolerance of fuzziness etc etc.

“It is about being grown up. Uncertainty is not pretty and it is not pleasant, but when it is mastered, wonderful things happen. There’s something wonderful about embracing ambiguity… Most of us, as adults, are frightened of it”
Throughout our schooling we are rewarded for finding and regurgitating the right answer. if we don’t have them, we feel like failures.
So, even if a leader has the courage to admit to not knowing what the future holds, or that a mistake was made, the approach may not be appreciated by the employees, board and investors.
The problem is that the popular model of a leader is an all-seeing all knowing captain of the ship.
“People mistake leadership for control, whereas leadership is the ability to learn and grow through change” [Randall White] says. Control is only a part of leadership, just as the ability to empower others and handle ambiguity are parts of the whole picture.
from “When being uncertain is a sign of strength” by Fiona Smith, Australian Financial Review 14 June 2011 (page 58)

Randall White co-wrote “Relax, it’s only uncertainty.”

PS Am reminded of a lovely quote I recently heard, from Dwight Eisenhower, who said “plans are almost useless, but planning is essential.”

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3 Responses to Ambiguity and ambidextrous leadership

  1. Antonio Dias says:

    “The all knowing captain of a ship” is a marketing fabrication to sell to passengers. Conning a vessel is all about mastering ambiguity. That was the trouble with Captain Smith of the Titanic, he’d been awfully lucky over his long career and firmly believed in his image instead of the realities of the sea.

  2. leavergirl says:

    Um… I have not found uncertainty to be unpleasant. I have found it to be a relief. Chronic pretense of certainty is what is unpleasant.

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