Why Leaders Need Ambiguity

Susan S Freeman Blog

This week’s Step Up Leader tip reinforces a concept from “Step Up Now:  21 Powerful Principles for People Who Influence Others.”  Principle #6, Curious George Had it Right, is about the importance of curiosity in leadership.  Curiosity can initially be uncomfortable for leaders. We have been taught (and rewarded) to make judgments and have answers.   Curiosity invites ambiguity.  It requires us to be more attuned to what is “wanting” to be expressed within a given challenge.

This article from Leading Blog re-frames why ambiguity could be a leader’s best friend if we let it….

  • AmbiguityAmbiguity draws attention to what we don’t know

  • Ambiguity gives us space to unlearn

  • Ambiguity gives birth to new thinking and tools

  • Ambiguity exposes opportunity

  • Ambiguity ignites the spark of growth

  • Ambiguity expands awareness

  • Ambiguity is humble

  • Ambiguity asks questions

Ambiguity and order are tensions to be managed. There is a time and a place for both. Generally speaking, order reproduces—ambiguity creates. Order helps us to leverage our resources. But if we rush too fast to establish order we set ourselves up to repeat the thinking that got us to the point of needing the change in the first place. If we don’t allow ambiguity to do its work, then we might find that the order we establish is incomplete—not well thought out—and doomed to failure.

Functioning with ambiguity requires a great deal of emotional intelligence—the ability to control your emotions, perceive other’s emotions and to facilitate the expression and understanding of all emotions.

Without ambiguity we become dinosaurs.

Is your leadership comfortable with ambiguity?  If not, what action could you take to test it out and observe? Ambiguity can be an opening you as a leader.

We invite your comments here…

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