03-May-2023 by Allison McMillan

Read Time: Approx. 2 minutes

The Painter's Tape of Leadership: Mastering Versatility for Effective Management

When parents of young kids ask for advice on traveling, my one go-to suggestion is to take painters tape. They’ll get plenty of advice and opinions from others… things like best times to travel, equipment to bring (or not to bring), timezone adjustments, etc. but painters tape... that's often a new one for folks. Why painters tape you might ask? Because painters tape is small but incredibly versatile. I’ve used it to childproof hotel rooms, keep cabinets closed, help visually mark something that’s off limits, close things like snack bags, create games to play, and more. It’s surprising how helpful and useful this tool can be.

So what is the painters tape of leadership? The ability to be versatile. A large part of being a manager and leader is understanding versatility and crafting your skillset to be versatile. Versatility is defined as the "ability to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities." This shows up in so many different ways. Think about your last week or last month of your role. In what ways did you adapt to someone else's communication style? What about their leadership style? In what ways did you take on a new task that required you to be versatile... to dig in and tackle something new requiring you to stretch your current abilities? As leaders, we're constantly looking at how best to communicate with our team or our peers, showing up in different ways that are effective in different groups. And beyond that, you can identify who on your team is more versatile and who's less.

So what can you do to push yourself to be more versatile:

  1. Learn from others. Ask why things have been done a certain way to understand where they're coming from.
  2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  3. Break down scary tasks into smaller pieces that you can tackle one at a time.
  4. Be curious

The next time you're challenged with a task or pushed out of your comfort zone, or attempting to do the same with someone who reports to you, ask yourself what's potentially preventing them, or you, from being more versatile.

colorful tape all over

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