One analogy I like to use to explain the dynamic quality of appreciative and intentional leadership is by comparing them to blood pressure. It’s simple to understand and is easy to apply individually and collectively.
There are two measures of blood pressure, the systolic pressure (the pushing pressure of the blood flow) and the diastolic pressure (the dilating and relaxing of arteries in order to fill-up with new blood). Both can be used to explain the two complimentary principles of leadership.
Systolic Leadership Pressure
The passionate and confident vision, drive, and sustained determination to achieve something you or your collective wants. Without this systolic leadership pressure, without a forceful genuine intent, you are flat or simply going with the current without any self-directed impulse.
Diastolic Leadership Pressure
The ‘opening’ and ‘appreciating’ to new ideas, new relationships, new feelings, that bring new energy and renewed direction as to what you want now. Without diastolic leadership pressure, we act as a closed-system and are dry of new possibilities.
‘Leadership’ is consistently presented as integrating two complementary principles, whether we look at it from the point of view of the original Ohio State behavioral studies in 1957 or more recent Theory U in 2009 or Paradoxical Leadership Theory in 2010. The systolic and diastolic analogy is yet another good representation of this consistent leadership pattern, one we experience in our own lives.
When you get up tomorrow morning, why not try this?
Self-assess how are your systolic and diastolic leadership pressures. Jot down your results on the following page. You can make this exercise a regular one throughout the week or month.
Check your systolic leadership pressure:
- ‘Do I know what I want to achieve today?’
- ‘How much systolic push do I have for what I will today?’
Also check your diastolic leadership pressure:
- ‘What am I feeling, thinking, experiencing this morning? Am I connected ‘with’ the moment and the experiences of the morning, or am I swimming against the current?’
- ‘Am I feeling grounded and connected with what I want to accomplish today?’
Here is a self-assessment diagram you can use.
Four Questions To Ask Yourself
- How radically intentional and radically appreciative am I today?
- How much am I pushing for what I want to make manifest?
- How much am I open and appreciating what is?
- How aware and connected am I to what surrounds me?
This article is an excerpt from: The Yin and Yang of Leadership: A Theoretical and Practical Guide to Democratic Leading (2018)