Experiencing leadership is like eggs – scrambled or unscrambled. Unlike ordering at a restaurant, many times we don’t have a choice in the places we work. Other times, we have a choice, but we choose by not selecting.

Scrambled Leadership

The scrambled leadership experience falls into several types. Some types are more hurtful than others. However, in almost all cases, scrambled leadership is ineffective. The exception may be when we are jumping from idea to idea or fact to fact and, through the process, we arrive at the right idea and the right fact that produces a good decision.

Meandering ways

In scrambled leadership, we encounter individuals who cannot stay on topic. Worse, they don’t listen. You know the scenario. We enter a conversation with a specific question, and an hour later we barely escape with an answer or direction (if we’re lucky!). As the meandering happens, the scrambled individual forgets what was asked or what was said. Poor listening skills pop, and our plans crackle.

Devious ways

Another scrambled leadership type is one who intentionally changes the topic or says outrageous things to divert attention away from the core issue. Many politicians practice this with exceptional skill. Twitter has become a platform to enable some leaders to scramble current issues with deviousness. Amazingly, followers take the bait, and away we go on another path. And, by politicians, I mean government and business leaders; politicians exist in most organizations.

Doubting ways

A final scrambled leadership example is one who jumbles actions. A plan is agreed to, and we begin implementation. Along the way, the scrambled leader questions every action, as if you don’t know what you are doing. They try to change the planned actions to fit their individual desires. Although you try to stay on mission, the constant questioning of the actions or the negative attitude of what is being pursued wears us out.

Scrambled leadership produces discontentment, discouragement, and divisiveness. The three worst Ds in leadership. Add in disarray, and scrambled leadership worsens as only narrow or spotty results are achieved.

Unscrambled Leadership

The unscrambled leadership experience is one of problem solving and activation. An unscrambled leader is one who can individually disentangle complexity and support others to do the same. Through the unscrambling, collaborative support unfolds, and momentum builds toward clarity.

unscrambled leadershipDisentangling ways

Good unscrambled leaders listen to scenarios, challenges, and information. Through their listening practices, they begin to visualize options of how to move forward in a thoughtful, realistic, and impactful manner. Through their leadership, they don’t dictate a path; they offer options and suggestions.

When needed for advice or clarification, they take the time to listen again and deliver insights to assist, guide, influence, and support. Many times, we just need to talk through a scenario with someone and, through this exchange, we gain insights and clearness of what to do next.

It is like untying a nasty knot. If we pull in the wrong places, it gets worse and tighter. If we are patient, we begin to pull the right string in the right way, and we unravel to a straighter line forward. Unscrambled leaders are patient and discerning while being results-focused.

Activating ways

Empowering and engagement are over-used. Unscrambled leaders achieve both, but they are more activating through each. What unscrambled leaders do well is determine what spirit to untap and then proceed to untap it by:

  • Asking the right questions
  • Giving the unexpected but needed opportunities, and
  • Trusting in the power of human potential.

Unscrambled leaders know that low employee engagement or low voter turnout are causes of scrambled leadership. Good business and government leaders know that they need to unscramble the problem-solving power within each team member, colleague, and peer.

Clarity of mission helps, as does character. Activation happens when both waltz together.

Unscrambled leadership produces harmony, encouragement, fulfillment, and trust. The HEFT of solid leadership. A leader who activates others in producing positive results is someone we want to turn out for and do the work that matters most.

Leadership: Scrambled or Unscrambled?

In more cases, than we think, we have a choice in leadership.

  • The first choice is a selfie: How do we want to lead?
  • The second choice is: Who do we want to follow or join their team?

While the first takes self-reflection and awareness, the second requires added actions. For societal citizenship, the action is who do we want to vote for and then voting; opting out of voting isn’t an option. For business citizenship, this is saving enough walk-away money if we cannot find an unscrambled leader in our organization.

We are citizens of organizations and society and, many times, we get the leadership we allow to happen. We have the power of change within us, and we see what an individual or a small, dedicated group can change when they gain clarity of what is right, what needs to be done, how to do it with grace and character, and begin to do the necessary work with their full talent and minds activated.

So, how would you like your leadership?


Feature Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs on Unsplash
Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash


Leadership can be scrambled or unscrambled. We have a choice in how we lead and in who we want to follow. We need to make the leadership choice.