A Lesson in Ambiguity

By Danielle Horton

I recently had the opportunity to go to Chicago and study at North Western University, Kellogg School of Management. I completed a five day course called Reinventing Leadership: A Breakthrough Approach. I was assured that the breakthrough aspect of the course would become apparent when I challenged my conventional ideas of leadership and discovered new ways to view how I am as a leader. The Professors urged me to open my mind and consider that instead of thinking outside of the box, I may need to create new boxes all together.

Kellogg

We started the week by reviewing the philosophy and history of leadership models and how they have evolved over time. Moving from concepts in the ‘Old Economy Model’ of direction and execution to more dynamic concepts of vitalising and recognising the value of an organisation’s human capital. There was an overarching theme of challenging the status quo of leadership and re-inventing how we get the best out of people.

Late one evening we were working through a group exercise and our Professors went silent. For forty minutes our Professors did not say a word even when we looked to them for feedback. We were all astounded by this behaviour and were unable to receive any validation on whether we were on the right track or had even come to the correct answer. The session ended and we all went home quite annoyed and confused as to why the Professors would do such a thing. The following day they explained why they had put us through this exercise.

Ambiguity

The lesson was based on ambiguity and how we deal with the unknown in the business world as leaders. It was this which led to my key learning from the whole course – companies will face ambiguity in all facets of business whether it be technology, the economy or environmental. It is how we adapt and innovate with our people, even when we don’t know if we are on the right track that defines true leadership.

Ambiguity can lead to creative outcomes that you wouldn’t normally consider in predictable conditions. I can now implement learnings such as this at Treysta to deal with the ambiguity in the ever changing advice industry. Making creativity a priority when planning our client communications will enable the Treysta staff to surprise and delight our clients. By utilising technology such as marketing automation and customer relationship software, Treysta has the opportunity to more easily identify the needs and interests of our clients and allow us to connect in meaningful and valuable ways.

So rather than worry about potential ambiguity, I now look forward to the opportunities and challenges it presents.