Consistently resolving 5 or 6 Meta Dilemmas marks top leaders

There are about half a dozen basic dilemma stereotypes which underpin almost all of the operational and strategic issues which challenge leaders today. These are so prevalent and pervasive I call them the META DILEMMAS because they are present in virtually every leadership situation.


I call them Meta Dilemmas because they are dilemmas concerning who we are and our role in the world and are independent of any particular situation. In that sense you could also call them Constitutive Dilemmas (Constitutive: "Making a thing what it is; essential") as opposed to Situational Dilemmas (see below for more).

Lets look briefly at each Meta Dilemma:

Is the information I have good enough to act on or should I hold off and spend time looking for more or better information?

What do I need to do myself, what should I delegate and who can I rely on?

How long before I am confident that a plan is working and needs supported or not working and needs to be changed?

Which strategy should I chose and what is a realistic assessment of its downside and negative side-effects?

What is my appetite for risk - should I move with conviction or should I hedge my bets?

Is this issue within my circle of control, my circle of influence or my circle of concern - in other words, effort aside, what can I actually change here. Read More about The 3 circles.

In any business situation you have two types of dilemmas - Situational Dilemmas, such as should we do sales or marketing, should we focus on new business or account development, should we recruit or outsource etc.

Underpinning these Situational Dilemmas, which can be Operational or Strategic, short-lived or deeply rooted, are these Meta Dilemmas and it is the dynamic and interplay between these two types of dilemmas which creates the particular business challenge for us.

It will reward you richly if you can regularly take ten minutes to list your top challenges and quickly review them against the Five Meta Dilemmas.

About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson delivers keynote conference speeches, workshop facilitation and in-house consultancy in four key business areas:

  1. Creating High Performing Teams in enterprises including Virtual and Mobile Teams (based on the Bioteams Book)
  2. Establishing effective Collaborative Business Networks enabling companies to co-operate effectively in areas such as sales and product development (based on the book - The Networked Enterprise)
  3. How to use the latest social media technologies including blogging and online communities to promote enterprises, brand, organisation or event
  4. Development of graphical on-line interactive Business Dashboards and What-if Simulators for organisations to support Performance Improvement, Strategy Development and Executive Team Development.

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Leadership and Self-Deception
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