How to be a more flexible – and successful – leader (part two)

In part one, we acknowledged that there are almost as many different theories about what constitutes good corporate leadership as there are members of the C-suite themselves.

Business and leadership expert Peter Economy asserted in a piece for Inc. that flexible leadership is key to executive – and personal – success, noting “Those with flexibility tend to be the happiest and most successful in life and at work.”

Economy provided a few tips for leaders eager to become more flexible, and we added a few of our own as well. The pointers outlined in part one were:

  • Keep it real
  • Have a Plan B… and C… and D
  • Don’t rush, nor procrastinate
  • Be open to criticism
  • Multi-task judiciously

The above pieces of advice aren’t all it takes to be a flexible leader, though, as the following should also be taken into consideration.

6. Be open to evolving

Leaders are often reluctant to change their positions on issues for fear of being labeled indecisive, but if additional information comes to light or there’s another game-changing development of some kind, they reserve the right to reassess the situation and restate the way they see things in accordance with the new status quo. Often, they’ll end up more respected if they adapt their approaches rather than stubbornly adhering to the stance they took when they were looking at an incomplete picture.

“Flexible executives know when to color within the lines and when to splash paint all over the canvas.”

7. Embrace a creative mindset

Sometimes, tried and true business techniques are just the ticket when it comes to solving a corporate quandary or advancing a company’s reach, but other times, leaders may benefit from taking an out-of-the-box approach. Flexible executives know when to color within the lines and when to splash paint all over the canvas to see what they come up with – and, more to the point, they are comfortable with both approaches.

“Flexible people tend to be the true innovators,” Economy wrote. “They view the world through an open and creative lens. They thrive on discovering more efficient ways to achieve, and they create new systems that are beneficial to everyone.”

8. Look on the funny side

Executives’ high-pressure roles may not seem to leave a lot of time for laughs, but you know what they say: Humor is the best medicine. Of course, we’re not suggesting leaders laugh off important business decisions or spend so much time goofing off that they neglect their duties, but a little levity can go a long way in terms of helping to put situations into perspective – especially when things aren’t going favorably.

As Economy put it, “Their flexibility allows them to see the humorous side of life’s struggles with an easygoing, take-it-task-by-task-and-day-by-day attitude.”

So, what’s the best course of action for leaders looking to become more flexible? Although there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for success, consider living in the now, making backup plans, finding a balance between haste and procrastination, accepting criticism, embracing multi-tasking, evolving opinions, being creative and seeing the humor in serious situations.

About Caldwell

Caldwell is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for 50 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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