flexibleThe differences among people can be both an advantage and a disadvantage to teams. In this context, what I am thinking about today revolves around leaders making significant changes to accommodate one or more person’s individual needs.  To put it another way, how much do I have to (and should I) bend as a leader for my team members?  I think the answer is the ever clarifying – it depends.  In my opinion, there are some areas, like ethics, where there is no flexibility.  Effective leadership directly relates to ethical behavior, which cannot be compromised.  Unfortunately, other individual characteristics may impact team building and teamwork, and they are not as clear-cut.

Most other examples, like physical disabilities or personality quirks, start out with the sentiment that leaders must take those things into consideration for the overall team strategy. However, each example comes to a point where ‘but’ comes into play.  For instance, physical disabilities of team members are something leaders have to adjust and accommodate…but…. if the mission of the team is one where the physical limitation hinders the team from accomplishing the goal then physical disabilities may be a disqualifying characteristic.  That seems to be my thread of thinking – leaders should and must do what is right and proper to incorporate whatever talent that individual brings to the table as long as it does not jeopardize the overall goal accomplishment or the other team members.

Another thing to keep in mind is that leaders must adjust and adapt their leadership styles in different ways to effect different people.  Not that the leader changes who they are for every person they meet.  How they interact or motivate people has to be adaptable.  To be sure, it is a tough balance.  However, I believe the answer to my original question about how far to bend is don’t.  What I mean by this is not to bend as a leader so much that my own morals, convictions or sense of self are affected or compromised.  Those traits are what help strengthen me as a leader in the first place.  Working with team members, in whatever ways they need to achieve their goals, should not conflict with that simple premise. If it does, it is up to the leader to remain resolved.


Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team


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  1. #1 by Wayne Gaede on June 4, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    I tell my students all the time that “It depends….” is a great answer for most questions. At a basic level, it buys you 15 seconds or so to collect your thoughts when you really don’t have a ready answer, since the natural reaction is for the questioner to then say “It depends on what?” Above that, it shows that you are aware that most answers truly are dependent on the specifics of each situation. You are spot on, Lori, that there is a line beyond which ‘flexibility’ ends in all situations.

  2. #2 by Sabine on July 24, 2013 - 5:34 pm

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any points for first-time blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    • #3 by The Professional Development Team on July 25, 2013 - 11:33 am

      Hello! Thank you for your positive comments on my blog! This is my first blog as well so I appreciate the support. The only thing I’ve noticed as a blogger is the difference between what I consider ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ is heart. If someone posts a blog that I can relate to, that is interesting, and makes some kind of point, then I enjoy usually enjoy reading what they have to say. The other bit of advice – keep it short. People have lives and they have short attention spans – if you want to share something or get a message out, do it without writing a dissertation. Notice that my blogs are normally only two or three paragraphs – read it, get my thoughts, move on!

      Again, thank you for reading and your support! Lori

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