At this year’s Global Leadership Summit, Craig Groeschel kicked things off with a powerful talk on Leadership Paradoxes. He defined these as contradicting leadership qualities that together create a synergy of undeniable leadership impact. Examples would be:

  • Confident — Humble
  • Driven — Healthy
  • Focused — Flexible
  • Optimistic — Realistic
  • Direct — Kind
  • Empowering — Controlling
  • Urgent — Patient
  • Frugal — Abundant

Each of these contradicting qualities creates a tension, and if you resolve it in one direction or the other, you lose something. Holding both together, living in the tension and managing it, creates the synergy of leadership impact.

He dove deeper on three of these:

  1. Leaders that are both confident and humble
    • You’re attracted to both confident and humble, but one without the other isn’t effective
    • Misplaced confidence leads to mistrust
    • Too humble and you’re hesitant and afraid to act
    • A growing leader is in a constant place of discomfort (so true)
  2. Leaders that are both driven and healthy
    • Reasons you may be too far on the driven side, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed:
      • You’re doing too much
      • You’re not doing too much, but you’re not recovering well
      • You’re not tired; you’re depleted (a nap won’t help the latter)
      • You need to raise your tolerance for work and stress
    • Great leaders tend to work hard, but not at the expense of their family
  3. Leaders that are both focused and flexible
    • If we aren’t ruthlessly focused, we’ll never achieve great leadership. If we aren’t flexible, we won’t keep it.
    • The essence of great leadership is choosing what NOT to do.
    • The greatest enemy of success is not a lack of opportunity, but a lack of focus.
    • We don’t change the world by doing good things; we do that by focusing on doing the best things.

As I’ve reflected on Craig’s talk, my initial gut response was confirmed – #2 is a great struggle for me. I tend to lean on the driven side of the equation, which will lead to overwhelm and burnout. And too many of the leaders I coach come to me experiencing that.

What are the next steps I can take to better manage the tension between being driven and being healthy? That’s what I’m wrestling through these days, and what I’ll be talking with my own coach about. Maybe it’s something you should think about too.

Does one of these stand out as your area of struggle? What is your plan to address it?


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