|Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow|
Pirates of the Caribbean
Every virtue is a mean between two extremes,
Each of which is a vice.
Captain's Crunch: Seven Tensions of Leadership
In their recent article, Every Leader Needs to Navigate These 7 Tensions, Jennifer Jordan, Michael Wade and Elizabeth Teracino contrast old- versus new-school (business) leadership paradigms They propose that a superior balance may be achieved between the opposing tenets of their respective approaches, rather than adhering rigidly to either one.
In sailing terms, we might (very loosely, I admit) think in terms of Cap'n Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow.
Balancing opposing values is something I think a lot about in boat design and sailing, so I perked up when I came across the article.
Let's take a gander:
Tension 1: The Expert vs. the Learner
We who captain presumably have been gathering experience, skills and, hopefully, wisdom along the way. But no matter how much we know, our crew bring their own knowledge and perspective which can benefit the ship. The sea has its own lessons.
Zen calls this balance beginner's mind.
Tension 2: The Constant vs. the Adaptor
The value of a good plan is indisputable. They put us in sync with wind and tides, making the most of them in a traverse. But they can also lead to dangerous, wishful thinking and denial of warning signs.
Make the best plan possible, but stand by for evolving situations.
Tension 3: The Tactician vs. the Visionary
Sailing is tactics in service of vision. No tactics in the world will tell you where you want to sail. No wanting will get us there without tactics.
May our spirit be willing, and our flesh be strong!
Tension 4: The Teller vs. the Listener
The captain has the final word; s/he must tell the crew what to do. But listening is vital as well, from the call-out of the lookout to the wishes of the most junior aboard. At least if we want a happy ship.
Knowledge speaks; wisdom listens. -- Jimi Hendrix
Tension 5: The Power Holder vs. the Power Sharer
Captains must command; a ship cannot be safely run by committee. Yet crews may be empowered through training, consultation and even turns as captain (in which case we become hearty crew for the duration). Note that captains are often not the best sailor on board.
One at a time and a clear order of succession!
Tension 6: The Intuitionist vs. the Analyst
Intuition is a powerful force, honed by four billion years of evolution. But analysis is a powerful tool. Intuition guided by reason is what makes human beings so formidable.
All gut, no glory.
Tension 7: The Perfectionist vs. the Accelerator
Do we wait until everything is perfect? Or wing it? On the one hand, perfection will be attained never. On the other, look what happened to Icarus. We need a solid vessel under us; not the perfect one. We need to know enough; not everything.
Go small, go simple, go now!
They follow up with some how-to nuggets which pretty much speak for themselves:
- Learn, Adapt, Practice
- Contextual Awareness
Suffice it to say that, all of these represent a balancing act. It's hard work in a dynamic environment.
Don't beat yourself up over mistakes... they happen. Don't go it alone if you've got friends and crew to help. Do strike a balance between in-control Cap'n Barbossa and slippery Cap'n Jack Sparrow.
It'll be worth the effort!