Posted on

Dichotomy in Leadership

Managing Risk While Being Innovative

Leaders must keep their attention on managing operational risk while working to stay ahead of the curve, and offer their customers innovative new products. This constant tension is a challenge for many leaders in today’s competitive culture.

My father taught me to “keep my eye on the store”. At the same time, the leader must keep in tune with customers’ changing needs and they must offer new products to maintain loyalty.

We all know private companies who had security breaches while trying to develop new products to lure new customers. Many of their customers migrated to other companies when they heard this news. We also know of restaurants that did not pass their health unit test for cleanliness and, as a result, quickly lost their customers. In this era of social media word travels fast!

Leaders in publicly funded organizations have many government mandated standards to maintain. Failure to do so can result in loss of government revenues.
These leaders must pay attention to the current government’s changing agenda. The need to ensure the delivery of services in a way that fits with the “new direction”. Current examples in Ontario include changes to funding for autism services for children, giving parents money directly to purchase services. Agencies who had base funding for staffing are now left trying to consider a re-engineer into a private pay model.

This tension between managing risk and continuing to innovate can be a source of ongoing tension for leaders.

Many of my coaching clients discuss this ongoing tension with me. Together we develop a plan to help them manage both ends of this dichotomy to ensure a strong organizational reputation with both the people they serve and their funders.