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A lesson in disorder

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Photo by Fiona Art from Pexels

I have written about the realities of leadership before and that the plethora of self-help books make sense, so long as you are in some neat and uniform world that only exists in those books. However, the stark reality for the stretched and under pressure business professional is a far more subtle and challenging job than those platitudes assert. The real world is very, very messy.

So it won't be a surprise to you that when I came across this paragraph in the excellent, but tough to read book "Antifragile" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, it made me pause. I have found myself returning to it many times since.

"People who build their strength using modern gym machines can lift extremely large weights, show great numbers and develop impressive-looking muscles, but fail to lift a stone; they would get completely hammered in a street fight by someone trained in more disorderly settings."

It goes on to say

"Their strength is extremely domain-specific, and their domain doesn't exist outside of extremely organised constructs."

I am sure you can see some similarity with his observation and my own regarding executives in leadership positions and the reality of the chaotic business environment compared to the uniform and organised scene set by most self-help books.

Taleb's observation reinforces the need to be situationally aware as the context, your reality, is crucial for getting the best results. Difficult team members require a different style of leadership to motivate them than a team of competent, professional and highly motivated individuals. A business under attack from competitors will require a different emphasis and approach to one where the market is growing rapidly, and there are high barriers to entry.

Use the right tool for the right job to increase your impact as a leader and to get the best results.

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