Advice From a CEO: Be An Ambidextrous Leader to Find Success

by | Dec 21, 2021 | Podcast

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What kind of leader will be the most successful in the years to come? The ambidextrous leader. But what does that mean?

According to Wiki, “Ambidextrous leadership is a recently introduced term by scholars to characterize a special approach to leadership that is mostly used in organizations. It refers to the simultaneous use of explorative and exploitative activities by leaders. Exploration refers to search, risk-taking, experimentation, and innovation in organizations, whereas exploitation has to do with refinement, efficiency, implementation, and execution. Successful ambidextrous leaders must be able to achieve the appropriate mix of explorative and exploitative activities, unique for each organization, that will lead them to high firm performance outcomes.”

I love this leadership framework because, let’s face it — everything, everywhere, is constantly changing. But the statement, “you’ve got to embrace change,” is overused and challenging for many people to do.

Instead, what if we embraced the inherent tension between the way things are now and how things will change in the future? Embracing this tension is a recipe for success. You don’t have to throw out the old to pursue the new – at least not most of the time.

In this week’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO, I talk about the power of being ambidextrous.

I want to encourage you to think about being an ambidextrous leader. How will you handle all of the challenges that will come your way? How will you handle the diversity of the situations you will face? How do you exploit and explore simultaneously? How do you let go of what isn’t working to embrace new ways of thinking?

To grow your team and company, you might have to take different approaches to your growth strategy, team-building efforts, culture curation, etc. You might have to ask yourself, “Why have we always done it this way? How can I build upon what’s worked and let go of what hasn’t? How can I look at new ways of growing, even if those ways are at odds with what we do currently?”

If there are two things that humans do, they change and evolve. We can see our evolution throughout history. And unfortunately, many of us are averse to change because we’re afraid of the outcome. Some are afraid of failing or losing something, so they dig in and try to keep the status quo because that feels safe. But it isn’t safe.

The fact is that things will change, and you’re going to change, even if you’re unwilling because we all do; we all modify and adapt. You can go down kicking and screaming, or you can change with grace, flow, and ambidexterity, asking yourself, “What is my environment bringing to me? What situation am I in right now? And how can I flex to maximize my impact and maximize the outcome?”

If you want to be a creative, innovative and effective leader, you’ve got to develop your ambidexterity.

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