Unbending Oak or Flexible Reed? » Mind Tools Blog
Are You an Unbending Oak or a Flexible Reed?

Unbending Oak or Flexible Reed?

September 16, 2016

©GettyImages/Peter Banks

Has anyone ever accused you of being controlling? Or maybe, the opposite… Do people see you as the laid back, flexible, easygoing manager in the office?

Are You in Control?

It can be easy to slip into micromanaging your team’s workload down to even the smallest task. After all, things have got to be done “right.”

You might believe that most people dislike working and prefer to avoid responsibility. If so, you’ll want to make sure that your team members are doing their work correctly and meeting their deadlines. But, by viewing them in this way, you might be holding them back.

Becoming More Flexible

A more hands-off approach from you could mean a more motivated team. By learning to back off a little and to delegate more effectively, you could reduce the pressure that you’re under, while investing in and expanding your team’s repertoire of skills.

Being a good manager is not necessarily one or the other – unbending or flexible. It’s choosing when best to apply these two types of management styles.

Our recent video on social psychologist Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y model, which explores team motivations, can help you to discover more about the type of manager you are and which style of management might best suit your team. You can find out more about improving your team’s flexibility by exploring our article on Cross-Training. This examines the benefits of training people outside of their core role, and how this can not only improve team motivation but also cover skills gaps in your organization.

If you do decide to go ahead and change how you manage your team, you might also find it useful to have a look at Kelly and Conner’s Emotional Cycle of Change, which provides some great insight into how to manage the practical and emotional outcomes of such a transition.

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “A tree that is unbending is easily broken.”

So, ask yourself, are you an unbending oak or a flexible reed?

3 thoughts on “Unbending Oak or Flexible Reed?

  1. suhana wrote:

    i also see myself as both under depending circumstances and situations

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      I am like you Suhana that it depends on the situation as to how flexible I am or not!

  2. Bree wrote:

    I see myself as both an unbending oak and a flexible reed depending on the situation, and depending on my stress levels. For some situations I can be flexible while for others I will not budge. Then, if my stress levels are high, I tend to get more inflexible / controlling … which isn’t a good thing and something I’m still working on!

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