A Phillips screwdriver won’t work on a slot-head screw. It’s tough to drive a staple with a hammer. A master carpenter has a tool for every purpose. An amateur has a few standard tools and tries to make them work for every purpose. So what’s this got to do with leadership?
Leaders acquire or invent the tools they need to fit the circumstances. They let the situation or the problem define the tools or techniques needed, rather than defining the problem by the tools they happen to have available. They look at problems as an opportunity to learn something, rather than merely as an opportunity to apply something they already know.
So a leader is a tool-finder as well as a tool-maker. A leader realizes that unconventional situations require unconventional tools.
Of course, no tool or technique can compensate for the inadequacies of their users. We are led – easily on our part – to believe that we can buy smarts, or at least buy something that would compensate for our own or others’ incompetencies. However, you cannot. I cannot. No one can.
A leader is someone who has the right tool for the right task – and knows how to use it.
-Lee Thayer, Thought-Leader