During the Shakti Leadership class this week, we explored the concept of flexible or “the capacity to switch modes seamlessly and to bend without breaking.” (Shakti Leadership, p.87)
Being flexible not only allows people to navigate change with more ease: being flexible also provides more opportunities for innovation and creativity.
Flexibility is not wishy-washy. Flexible leaders are grounded in their core values and continue to make decisions which are aligned with those values.
Flexibility requires boundaries. Flexible leaders have limits and honor their needs as well as respect the needs of their team. Flexible leaders learn to identify their resources and to work within the parameters of those resources until other solutions present themselves.
In other words, an organization’s productivity is based on current available resources. Want more productivity? Then either leverage your resources differently or seek new resources: the organization’s values are not compromised.
When there is conflict (and there will be), flexible leaders acknowledge the conflict, name the opposing viewpoints, and then work toward a solution which upholds the values and the vision of the organization.
Over the course of the twelve years in which I have guided Shakti in the Mountains, the times I and the organization have suffered the most are the times when I have either compromised my vision or my boundaries were too porous.
In the name of collaboration, I have allowed other people’s vision to uproot my own. Because of ambition and expediency, I have forsaken my own values to reach a goal. In each instance, I did not like the outcome nor did I like myself. These experiences have taught me to slow down, to listen to my intuition, and always to adhere to my vision.
In the book Shakti Leadership, we are introduced to a tool called Polarity Mapping developed by Dr. Barry Johnson. (p.89). I found this tool so helpful I wanted to share it with you. If you want to learn more about Dr. Johnson and his work, then please visit his website.
Polarity Mapping is used when you are faced with a dilemma which creates two opposing choices.
The key to using a polarity map is to substitute the word “or” with the word “and.” When the word “and” is used to describe the opposing viewpoint, then interdependent pairs are created to find a solution.
Let’s use Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, to illustrate a polarity map.
The first step is to identify the interdependent pairs. One choice is to take the road most traveled. The other choice is take the road less traveled. We word these options using “and:” The road less traveled AND the road more traveled.
The second step is to enumerate both the positive and the negative qualities of each choice. (See table below)
The third step is to identify the cycle between the two polarities. In other words, sometimes we need to use the road more traveled and sometimes we need to use the road less traveled. Every time we are at a crossroads we can evaluate the pros and cons and decide what the situation calls for. In other words, what is needed at this moment in time?
Polarities create tension: tension which asks us to find equilibrium in the moment.
If you have ever walked on a floating dock or the deck of a ship, then you know your balance shifts moment to moment. One moment you need to lean to the left. Another moment you need to lean to the right. Left is not better than right or vice versa: both are necessary to walk on moving ground. Polarities are neither good nor bad, rather they simply acknowledge the different energies in our life.
Flexible leaders do not have to know all the variables – that is what teams are for – rather flexible leaders need to hold the vision, to create space where all the variables can be considered, and then to ask thought-provoking questions so that decisions which reflect the vision can be made.
Effective leaders do not have all the answers: effective leaders have the capacity to find them.
If you decide to create a polarity map, consider sharing your experience with me. I’d love to learn from your process. In the meantime, please check out the upcoming events listed below and join us for one or all of them.
Have a great week!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Since 2010, Kim continues to build and to support a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.
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