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Dynamic Duo

March 29, 2016

By Jeanine Izzo

Mac n Cheese

Batman and Robin, Will and Kate, and Macaroni and Cheese are all duos that could be referred to as dynamic because they work together well.  Their complimentary attributes create effective partnerships.  When it comes to the workplace, there is another duo that is essential.

  1. The first side brings forth the structure.  This might show up in being able to create or adhere to the following:  Rules, process, guidelines, templates, technical knowledge, ideology, known variables, discipline.
  2. The second side brings forth flexibility:  This could look like the following:  Bending the rules, creative/alternate solutions, making connections between seemingly unconnected aspects, dealing with amorphous aspects/unknown variables, unpredictable occurrences, and imperfect realities.

Put in other words…

  • Nuts/bolts vs. Instinct/individuality
  • Theory vs. Practice
  • Off the shelf vs. Custom
  • Process vs. People
  • Hard Skills vs. Soft skills

Typically, having a one-sided approach is not the most effective.  The  most successful leaders have a blend of these elements. Those that favor one side over the other (for whatever reason), have a respect for the other side and seek out those attributes, in themselves or others, as appropriate.    Although, it would be nice if there was a perfect formula to follow, the ‘right’ blend is variable based on the project/business goals.

In most cases, it is up to individual leaders to utilize the right blend for their teams.  This is where I have seen many people and/or their teams struggle.  It really is no wonder why.

  1. The skills from each side (i.e. hard skills vs. soft skills) are trained as if they stand alone.
  2. Individual contributors are promoted into management/leadership roles because they were proficient in their area of expertise.
  3. Now, in order to lead a team to success, their skills have to evolve.
  4. New leaders may not get the appropriate training and support to set them up for success.
  5. Nonetheless, continuing their successful streak requires them to rise to the complexities of more dynamic interactions.
  6. When in unfamiliar territory, human nature typically retreats into what we already know.  This, in part, contributes to the micro-manager and sea-gull manager syndromes.
  7. Additionally, the combination of skills that work best will change with the type of project, the phase of the project, the people involved, etc.  Hence, the blend has to be  adjusted along the way.

Intertwining the two sides is required to maximize value.  Integration of these skills is the catalyst to dynamic individuals and teams.  Which, in turn, creates more valuable results and more responsive companies.

For too long we’ve separated these functions and struggled to implement them together.    Each side criticizing the other based on their natural tendencies.  A classic example is Engineering complaining about the changing requirements of Marketing without understanding that there may have been a disruption in the market that has to be addressed in order for the product to be viable…And, Marketing complaining about Engineering for taking so long to adapt without understanding the design, testing and regulatory requirements.  I know why.  It’s difficult.  It’s difficult to bridge the gap when both sides have sound motivation for their stance.  It’s difficult to stretch out of our comfort zones and learn something new well enough so that we can understand and resolve it effectively.  It’s difficult to open ourselves up to the possibility of a better way to do something.  It’s difficult in that it takes time and coordination.  Not necessarily more, but different.

Combine these difficulties with our education and conditioning…and the required behaviors seem counter intuitive…if not secretive.  Even those that realize there is a better way struggle to put their finger on it…let alone know how to orchestrate the pieces.  Chances are those that do this well have learned through their experiences and not through formal education.  This makes it challenging to articulate and teach others the art of integration.

Let’s look at some common gaps…

  1. Who do you know that truly believes they are a great listener, yet they don’t make you feel heard at all?
  2. How about a leader that makes you feel heard, but doesn’t have the follow through to support you through accountability and growth?
  3. What is going on when you can recognize a leader is using collaboration tools taught related to team work (i.e. asking questions, brainstorming, issue resolution), yet the team is not engaging?

Improvement in the instances above requires the application of the dynamic duo. This means…

  • Having enough knowledge (and courage) to ask questions.
  • Listening for the answers.
  • Collaborating for the best way forward.
  • Adjusting the plan, and
  • Displaying the discipline to make it happen.

Within the summary bullet points above, there is no doubt process to follow, templates to utilize, audit requirements, interpersonal obstacles and company culture (to name a handful) that have to be considered.  This is what makes leading such a dynamic position.

Again…it’s difficult…it takes practice…even missteps to learn and improve.  This is exactly what energizes me about leadership.  This is what makes it interesting and rewarding and impactful.

Forward Moving Tips: 

Answer the following…

  • How well do you know the mechanics of each side of the duo?
  • What is one complimentary set of behaviors that you can practice integrating?
  • Who will provide support and accountability for your growth?

 REMEMBER:  You have to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable during the development of skills.

Although the majority of training courses focus on one side or the other.  In my experience and opinion, the sustainable, fluid, results oriented answer lies in the ability to integrate the dynamic duo.

For assistance with moving forward with more focus, confidence and success along your journey,  Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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