Leaders: How to Deal with Dissonance

March 8, 2019 | Building bosses Deborah Rinner, Chief Learning Officer, Tero International, drinner@tero.com

Not everyone loves a clown. Many people fear them. Charles Dickens identified what is feared in the image of a clown. He said, “What causes fear is not the exaggerated painted face, or the dull face of a person underneath. It is the tension between the two. The dissonance between what is and what appears to be.”

Leadership situations can also cause a gap between what is and what appears to be.

Here are a few examples:

  • You are now a leader to what were your peers
  • You must get buy-in for a change that others and you yourself do not believe in
  • You give a board presentation and your presentation skills are not as good as people expect

How can you deal with the dissonance?

  • Identify the issue. Is the dissonance between how you want to be perceived and how you’ll be perceived due to a lack of skill? Is it the tension of knowing you’re viewed as a capable leader but you don’t know how to capably affect a particular situation?
  • Address the issue by finding support in the form of effective leadership tools. The experienced woodworker has more sophisticated tools than the novice. Leaders need more advanced tools than those they lead.

Inability to be effective is a legitimate fear for leaders who have the development of others entrusted to them. Yet abilities can be developed and future dissonance can be prevented if we acquire and use an effective set of leadership tools.