The Power of Limits as both a Strength and Paradox for Leadership

power of limits in working with chaos and order

One of the greatest breakthroughs that our clients experience is through developing the capacity of handling paradoxical concepts simultaneously. One example of this that we teach in our Extraordinary Leadership development workshops is the paradox of embracing order as a condition necessary for growth, while simultaneously embracing chaos as a condition necessary for innovation. Imagine right now how you feel about chaos…does chaos give you a sense of comfort? Now imagine about order…does order give you a sense of comfort? And now stretch your imagination into that paradox of being simultaneously comfortable with both chaos and order. How does that feel? Can you imagine having the capacity in your leadership to remain in this state of the paradox? It is a strength if you can do it!

Another and related paradox is about simultaneously embracing the limitlessness of freedom to be creative and the power of limits. Put quite simply, the strength of the capacity to work well from this paradox is that when we know where the limits are, not where they seem to be, we open up the space to be creative and innovative, and to take action on the creativity and innovation.

In our coaching and mentoring sessions, we work with clients to acknowledge and understand the real limitations that exist in their field of endeavor, including those limitations that they themselves impose. We refer to this mixed bag of limitations as the ‘givens’.  Leaders may impose limitations themselves in relation to company policy, their own deeply held values, budget, and so on.

The discernment process assists them to develop clarity about the real limitations that inform what can and cannot be done. They can then separate out the real limitations from those that seem to be real and are not. By going through this discernment process and accepting where the limitations are and where they are not, it is possible to define the space in which freedom for innovative action from creativity can flourish and assist the enterprise.

On a personal level, this discernment becomes clarity about personal boundaries for leading one’s life. For a formal leader, this discernment process becomes clarity for the leader and the people in the organization regarding their space for freedom. It is ever so helpful to everyone involved for this to be explicit rather than left in the field of untested assumptions.

When we define these givens, it goes a long way in working within the paradox of leadership. Of working with chaos and order simultaneously. Of working with freedom and limits. Being able to tap into creativity and innovation and action it to create greater and greater levels of success in your life and your work.

Contact us if you would think you would benefit from coaching and mentoring to go through a discernment process about limits….and learn to benefit from the power of limits.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.

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