The Most Important Quality of Leadership

The Most Important Quality of Leadership

Change comes at us like a huge wave in the ocean and we need to be ready to jump high or dive down. We never know which is best till that moment of truth. The rest of the time we practice, practice, practice. It is vital for leaders to be flexible physically, emotionally, and mentally. Once we get stuck in patterned responses we start a chain of events that lead to old ways of solving problems. In this fast paced culture we need to learn the essence of flexibility.

We all know the words, we heard it from our parents, read texts in history class or English lit. We are told to be flexible, that the only constant in life is change; that we can’t step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus said hundreds of years ago. Today’s bumper sticker echoes this, “Life is change. Growth is optional”. Yeah right, got it! However, we all wonder why it is so hard to change.

Charles Darwin was not only an advocate of the fittest. What he said, and it really matters is “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change”.

Therefore, who wins is not the one with the most toys; it’s the one who is the most flexible, the most adaptive, and the most responsive to change, the one who does the best at conflict management. Here are three key ways to stay flexible, to stop the pattern repetition, and be responsive to new situations at the drop of a hat. The suggestions are for leaders at every level and for all of us who just want to have a happier life.

  1. Walk Backwards! Yup, that’s exactly what I mean. Find a smooth stretch of ground and walk backwards for at least 5 minutes. This will give you a quick, inexpensive new perspective and is a great way to shake up your internal patterned reactions. If you do this every day it helps you make better decisions. Listen, I’m talking about 5 minutes out of a day. If that’s too much to ask refer back to the Darwin quote.
  2. Hold That Thought! No, you won’t ossify. This is flexibility in action.  It is a time tested way to create a vision of what you want, where you are headed, and help you get yourself there. Mental pictures that are kept bright and strong are like antennas to let the rest of the world know you are here and to provide you with what you need for your activity to be successful. Just hold the BIG thought, the details will fill themselves in. (Decades ago I held the mental image of a husband/ business partner working in the realms of personal and business growth. Yup, it happened!).
  3. Fake It Till You Make It.  No, you won’t go to jail. Just don’t let the “knots” (as in: am not, cannot, should not, will not and not good enough) take over your thoughts. Here you have to be one of the fittest (by the way, Darwin did like winners). You have to fight with yourself to keep the chatter of the fear mongers at bay. You also have to say no to the hardcore folks who have all the facts to dissuade you. Don’t ignore facts; just don’t sell out to them. Think Wilber and Orville Wright. Heavy metal sure does fly in the air!

The newest research shows the plasticity of the brain to be one of our most important resources. Your brain is flexible and therefore you are too. It is probably what Darwin knew intuitively before today’s fancy MRI equipment could prove it. So, being flexible means doing something differently and being responsive to change.  And oh yes, Yoga stretches work also!

About the Author

Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D., author of the award winning book, “Don’t Bring It to Work”, is President of CEO, Creative Energy Options, Inc., a  global consulting company focused on optimizing workplace relationships through extra-ordinary quality of leadership. Dr. Lafair’s unique model has revolutionized the way teams cooperate, relate and innovate. She can be reached at or 570-636-3858;



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