You’re smart. You’re resourceful. You’re motivated. Yet you aren’t hitting the target as a leader and wondering why.

Do you want to become a prized leader, sought after, influential, wise?

Perhaps you’re exploring the best thinking  on leadership? I bet your book shelves are sagging. So much is being written about the art and science of leadership.

The right brain folks gravitate naturally to the “art,” sometimes called “the soft stuff”.  What’s “soft?” Emotional Intelligence for example, the body of work done by Daniel Goleman and well studied. I recent years many leadership gurus have said “its ALL about the soft stuff.”

The left brainers grab onto the ‘science”. They look at models, formulas and prescriptions in hopes of “getting it right”. Time management seminars, organizational skills trainings, salesmanship workshops make it onto their “to do” lists.

“What to do? What to do?” you ask.

First, recognize it isn’t one or the the other!

What will make you a powerful, wise and effective leader is the integration of art and science. Yep, great leaders shine not in both arenas, but in the integration of the two…seamless, elegant integration.

They use tools, resources and other people that support planning, strategizing, marketing and customer service. Customer, for example is made up of “left brained” analytics matched with deep listening skills. Marketing requires a marriage between “right” brained discovery of what clients really want and “left” understanding of the demographics. And so on.

Prized leaders learn to listen in a particular way,  to their teams, peers, colleague, competitors, all the stakeholders. They learn to hold conflict as generative. Rather than seeing disagreement as personal, they operate from curiosity, learning all they can from opposing positions or differing perspectives before making executive decisions.

In viewing problems, they consider both sustainability and change. Prized leaders know how to strike a balance between sustaining the organization and moving into a larger vision.

These leaders are skilled in supporting and developing their people, with tools from both camps – the right and left brain proponents. In other words, they are aware of the gifts each side brings and seek methods that integrate the two.

Want some of that?

Investments in integrating the art (people side) and science (business side) of leadership has big yields. If you read the stats on how hard companies find it to develop internal talent, how often they import (or steal it) from outside and the salaries they offer to likely candidates, you’ll see that great leaders, those that skillfully integrate the art and science, are a prized resource.

Ready to go for it?

Here are first steps: Get support! Period. (You might think you can go it alone, but without objective feedback its hard to correct your blindspots.) Support comes in many forms – a mentor, a coach, a group of peers…folks who have “been there”.

Join a Mastermind Group. Mastermind Groups, according to Napolean Hill bring the brilliance of two or more “minds” together to synergize for greater results than the individuals, hence creating a “master”mind.

Get leadership coaching. Today, most Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches. And many executive MBA programs offer leadership or executive coaching too.

Read, read read – executive summaries if you have to, full books if you can.

What on? On Emotional Intelligence, Difficult Conversations, Negotiation (Getting to Yes) Time Management, Marketing and Focus.

If you’re a leader, new to the organization, read The First Ninety Days and implement it.

You’ll have preferences ( we all do) of course. Do a bit of inventory. What are your strengths? Celebrate those. What challenges you? Get support for those. Assess those preferences carefully. The coaching comes in as a balancing act to what you’re strong in – to build your muscles around skills that are challenging.

Remember its the integration of the art and science of leadership that separates the wanna- a- bees from the awesome!  Pick a developmental stretch. Set a goal for the next 3 months. Get support and go for it.

There’s an African saying: If you go forward we die. If we go backward we die. Better to go forward.


Posted in Coaching, Communication, Leadership

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