It is my understanding that if the leaves of the houseplant begin to brown that I need to give them more water and if they turn yellow, I am giving them too much. This rule of thumb has served me well until I have become vexed by my newest plant which is turning both brown and yellow, sometimes on the same leaf.

This image came to mind when I was on a Zoom call with colleagues who were describing their organization’s change efforts. Within the same unit, some people wanted to do more and go faster while others were not ready to act. The conversation turned to how you could provide leadership to both. I see similar situations all the time where one group outlines reasons for change and another group provides a rationale for a delay or different option. It’s hard to reconcile that they both may be right but often are.

Scott Fitzgerald said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” As we’re navigating a more complex world in this transition state of COVID, more situations will present themselves as “both, and.”

You would be wise to cultivate your ability to hold multiple views as valid. The world needs more people who can honor more than one perspective simultaneously.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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