Most leadership how-to’s stress the importance of setting clear expectations and establishing a cogent mission. After all, team members need to know what they’re playing for, how they’re going to get it, and why it’s an important thing to strive for.
But according to a new book by a pair of leadership experts, leaders should learn to embrace the power of ambiguity. The book is called Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. The authors are Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston, and it’s featured this week in an article by Christopher B. Nelson up at The Huffington Post. Uncertainty, say the authors, produces a level of productive chaos that is well suited to problem solving in our quickly changing world.
Journalist Warren Berger traced innovation and breakthroughs of the 20th century back to their origin and found questions to be at the root of many modern revolutions of thought and technology. Questions, Berger argues, are a method of survival, not just fanciful innovation.
“Questioning enables us to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.”
Berger and Johnston argue that ambiguity breeds “a certain level of productive chaos.” They also stress that our world is going to get a whole lot more ambiguous in the coming years, likely a result of exponential technologies affecting the ways we do business. As open-ended questions and situations require innovative problem-solving strategies, a little bit of ambiguity can make for a more thoughtful workplace.
Read more at The Huffington Post. There’s an excerpt from the book there.
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