Successful leaders are masters of “competing competencies” – pairs of psychometric traits that would appear to be at odds with each other. By being able to handle both traits, leaders magnify their abilities while minimizing their weaknesses. The competing competencies are especially clear in four areas:
1. Disruptive and pragmatic: An organization needs leaders to disrupt the status quo with innovation, but they also must be pragmatic about focus, priorities and the pace of innovation in their organization.
2. Risk-taking and reluctant: Good leaders take calculated risks and are opportunistic, but we also want them to show vigilance in order to avoid steering an organization off a cliff.
3. Heroic and vulnerable: Heroic leaders need to ensure that perseverance and grit do not turn into self-delusion. Leaders need to solicit enough input and counsel to make continuous improvements to themselves and their organization.
4. Galvanizing and connecting: Leaders must generate support with energy and inspiration, but they also need to know when to take a step back and share credit, promote the success of others and connect the organization to higher values and a mission.