Leadership and the Art of Struggle – Part 2

leadership-and-the-art-of-struggle-lgYesterday, we began looking at Leadership and the Art of Struggle by Steven Snyder and how it is that we can grow through challenge and adversity. Snyder argues that the ‘struggle lens’ is the understanding that leaders want to make important human values real and effective but their potential to do so needs unlocking. More keys to doing this are:

3. Make sense of a chaotic world. Tensions need to be identified in four areas: tradition (potentially breaking patterns and changing culture); relationships (surrounding communication, trust or respect); aspiration (mobilising around a dream or vision); and identity (connected to integrity, authenticity and other values).

These tensions are resolved as leaders decide how to proceed effectively through the current reality, reinvent themselves to fit it, or exit that current reality. Leaders who cannot resolve such tensions often burn out and take their baggage to their next role. Tools to help include focusing on the situation and reimagining it, and then focusing on yourself and how you might change your own contribution to the tensions. For example, Snyder cites an example of a CEO who fired an unethical leader and found that his other leaders had known what was happening: he acknowledged the problem publicly and developed an axiom to help rearticulate his values for everyone’s benefit, stating that he would rather lose right than win wrong, but wanted to ‘win right’!

4. Regain balance. In turbulent times, ‘mindfulness’ is crucial to staying centred and grounded. Journalling, nature, music, prayer, exercise and other practices may seem like recreation, but are about bringing renewed energy and well-being. Sometimes, wise peers and mentors are also needed to provide ‘outward’ support systems in addition to the ‘inner’ ones.

More tomorrow.


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