Clarify, Don’t Oversimplify

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Many of us are on a quest to simplify our lives, reduce our clutter and improve our focus. This is a positive step that can improve our lives, but unfortunately it doesn’t work at all when applied to our decision making.

When situations are complex, it is tempting to oversimplify them so we can move on and make a quick decision. This practice, though, sets us up for poor decision making and ethical mistakes.

“‘Satisficing’ leads the managerial leader to alternatives that tend to be easy to formulate, familiar, and close to the status quo. When one grapples with complex ethical considerations, this approach to decision making may not produce the best solutions.”

Charles D. Kerns, Graziadio Business Review, Pepperdine University

Kern’s term ‘satisficing’ makes me think of sacrificing the complexity of an issue to satisfy our need to move forward. It reminds me of our tendency to want things to be simpler than they really are, because digging into complex issues takes some effort.

This week, take a moment to consider where you might be ‘satisficing’ when you should be clarifying.

17 Leadership Paradoxes

By Linda Fisher Thornton

COVID-19 has brought us many challenges including balancing economic and human factors, moving quickly but taking time to show compassion and so on. This Center for Creative Leadership video succinctly introduces 6 paradoxes in the essential leadership skills required in a post-COVID world. You can visit their website to download the related white paper.

The PWC publication “Six paradoxes of leadership: Addressing the crisis of leadership” shares 6 more paradoxes of leadership and notes that “learning how to comfortably inhabit both elements of each paradox will be critical to your success.” The paradoxes are expanded on in this COVID-19 related article “The urgent need for sophisticated leadership.”

And I’ll add these 5 paradoxes from my post Building Trust: Paradoxical Qualities to Cultivate

Cultivating these qualities in ourselves and our organizations helps us build a high trust workplace where people can do their best work:

Be Dependable and Open to Change

Be Fully Present Right Now and Think Ahead

Be Crystal Clear About What’s Expected and Open to Hearing Input From Others

Be Confident and Humble

Be Decisive and Flexible

Great leaders possess seemingly paradoxical qualities. They know when to use each end of the spectrum, depending on what is most needed to move individuals and groups forward.

Building Trust: Paradoxical Qualities to Cultivate, Leading in Context Blog

Leaders need to be be adaptable good thinkers to work their way through all of these paradoxes at the same time. The pandemic simply raises the stakes on us to get it right.

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