Generally speaking, there are two sides on every coin, right? I mean, unless there’s a magician doing a sneaky magic trick, the U.S. coin has a “heads” and “tails” side. We use coins for more than just buying and selling. In the U.S., some sports game referees flip a coin and a team Captain will “call it” – to choose which team goes first.
Now visualize another kind of coin. On this particular coin, one side reads, “Build Relationships” and the opposite side screams, “Be Right” (I got this idea from my friend Diane). As leaders, we must choose which side to be on in every interaction, communication, meeting or discussion. Right now, you may be rolling your eyes and shaking your head, thinking – no way do I choose. I’m surrounded by incompetence! Bear with me and keep reading because you do choose. All too often the choice is not made consciously, and it’s a matter of human chemistry.
Allow me to expand with a more thorough explanation. Studies continually confirm that effective leaders juggle getting results with building relationships. No surprise. Did you know according to one study, leaders who balance both – getting results and building relationships – are 6 times more effective than those who focus on results or people alone? Who wouldn’t want to be 6 times more effective? However, here’s the flip flop surprise that our neuro-chemistry dictates – there is a separation in our brain that drives this focus between the neocortex (logic, verbal, analysis) and the limbic system (emotion, intuition). The interesting part of the distinction between the two is, it is impossible to use both at the same time. You can think of it as flipping a switch between the two to be most effective. Neuroscience research has recently discovered the separate cognitive functions of these areas of the brain thus requiring us to flip-flop in order to effectively balance results and human interaction.
Some of us perform this flip-flop intuitively and make leadership seem easy. The rest of us need to study and practice emotional intelligence and problem-solving intentionally, so we can recognize and consciously flip the switch as needed. Do you want to waste your energy, breath or peace of mind arguing over mundane issues whether in your personal or professional life? Make a commitment to yourself to listen and appreciate conversations, not correct and criticize.
When have you flipped instead of flopped? Would you recognize your mistake today? How have you developed your emotional intelligence and problem solving skills so you are capable of flip-flopping IN THE MOMENT?
“Laugh when you can. Apologize when you should. And let go of what you can’t change. “
Reference: Should Leaders Focus on Results, or on People?
by Matthew Lieberman | 8:00 AM December 27, 2013 | HBR Blog