Are You A “Creatively Flexible” Leader?

I find various personality inventories and strength tests to be useful, but I also find some people misunderstanding the results. They’ll say, “That’s just the way I am. Take it or leave it.”

That’s emotional ignorance instead of emotional intelligence. The best leaders are creatively flexible. They find ways to move their resources around to make their organizational changes less traumatic and more successful. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of The Change Masters, says, “Excellent companies are very tight and very loose.”

Unfortunately, most change leaders fail to grasp this concept. They just flip flop between being very tight or very loose. When things get tight in the world, they get tight all over. They’ll announce such things as 10%-across-the-board cuts. They’ll say, “You want money? Take up a collection. It works well in airports. You need people? Have children.”

When things are going well, these flip floppers get loose all over. They’ll say, “You need money for equipment? Here’s the money. Buy it. And even if you don’t need the equipment, make sure you spend the money before the end of the fiscal year. You need people? Hire them!”

By contrast, effective change leaders are creatively flexible. When they’re going through change, they increase some budgets. They add staff and move resources to those areas that offer the greatest strategic advantage. And they also cut some budgets or realign some staff that are poorly positioned.

Ask yourself how “creatively flexible” you are and how others would describe you?