Dilemmas – The Great Challenge of Leadership

I’d like to begin a thread on dilemmas … those ever present realities of organizational life that create tensions in our day to day existence. Consider the following: Delivering Today’s Results AND Building the Future (a strategic dilemma); Joining the group AND staying separate enough from it to have my own clear views (relationship dilemma); doing what’s right for the business AND what’s right for our people (strategy/people dilemma). What defines these as dilemmas is that both sides of the polarity are necessary – and the demands of each create tensions in our organizations as they compete for scarce resources of time, funding and people.

Paying attention to and working to reconcile dilemmas is a core leadership capability. Done well, it inspires vitality and hope that the future will be brighter and different from today. Done poorly, it breeds negativity and cynicism.

In upcoming posts, I’ll be exploring different types of dilemmas, their implications for us as leaders and for our organizations. Ultimately we’ll be exploring strategies for better understanding and working with this phenomenon.

bob devlin
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