The Importance of Being Prickly

23 May 2016

Effective Leaders are ‘Prickly’

We read many, many leadership blogs and articles around how a leader should behave and be. Change2020 works with a range of leaders who exhibit behaviours and attributes that you wish were possible to clone. The DNA of these leaders is worth replicating and could be sold for millions.

While these leaders are all unique they do have one thing in common – they are – at times “prickly”. The definition of prickly it is usually associated with negative behaviours. For example: irritable, cantankerous, petulant, surly, bad-tempered and impatient.

However, prickly is not always a disadvantage.

The Australian mammal – the echidna – is a prickly creature that erects its spines for protection, to anchor itself, to help it climb, and to help it upright itself after it has fallen.

Why Leaders Need to be ‘Prickly’

At times, leaders need to be ‘prickly’ to:

  • Protect their organisation;
  • Stand firm in turbulent times;
  • Tackle the challenging conversations;
  • Help their organisations cease growth opportunities; and
  • Regroup when unforeseen eventualities come out of left field.

A ‘prickly’ leader is needed in order to embrace the ambiguity of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world where there are constant threats; pressure to out-perform and the need to be able to respond quickly to see the opportunities within change.

The very best leaders that Change2020 works with are ‘prickly’. They are great to work with, and just like the echidna they are strong, clever and have a good grasp of their environment. Their effectiveness is evidenced in their annual reports – with increases to revenue and profit and margin growth and importantly employee engagement and satisfaction.

Are you a prickly leader?

Kerryn Fewster

Kerryn is the Founder and Director of Change 2020. She has consulted extensively in the area of Transition and Transformation. She places emphasis on strategy development and solution implementation to minimise people and operational impacts associated with major change.

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