Flexible leadership: when to manage and when to lead

Flexible leadership: when to manage and when to lead

For years there has been discussed what the differences are between leadership and management, and what is more effective. The old way of thinking is that these roles are mutually exclusive and require different values and traits. The difference being that managers look for control and efficiency and leaders work on innovation and inspiration.

Modern research shows that both roles can exist in one role, but don’t have to. Both roles are necessary in a company but being flexible about what the team and individual needs makes sure no problems occur by either creating bureaucracy (over managing) or disrupt order (to strong leadership). 

Adaptable leaders excel in implementing new behaviours into old existing situations. This allows them find creative solutions to solve their problems. Flexibility is the willingness to try new behaviors, regardless of whether one is currently undergoing a time of change in their company.

In this blog we give you 3 guidelines to make sure you’re flexible in approaching your own role:


1.     Question the status quo, and mostly your own. It is easy to fall into routine in your daily life. The opportunity to be flexible and look for better solutions becomes more difficult the more senior we become. So, look for opportunities to be more flexible.

2.     Check your progress. Leaders have generally more responsibilities and deadlines to keep in mind. When you’re able to pause before making a decision helps you be more creative and innovative in your work.

3.     Listen to the advice of your peers. We don’t have to invent every solution for all our problems. The old Dutch saying works very well here: better to have smartly ‘stolen’ then poorly ‘created’. Listening to advice of trusted advisors is always a strength. Make sure you take enough time to really look for all optional solutions. 


To make sure to be and stay a flexible leader we need to always be able to assess the current success and progress of their new behaviors and re-evaluate or further modify behaviors that are unsuccessful.



Senior Trainer – Consultant

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.