Not overplaying our strengths

October 2, 2011

In my last post, I touched briefly on the Competing Values Framework developed by Robert E. Quinn.  Quinn’s research has led him to the conclusion that leaders must be aware of the paradoxes framed in the Competing Values Framework.  For instance, as leaders we must simultaneously instil organizational values for collaboration and effective teaming while emphasizing the need to compete.  We want our organizations to create and innovate, yet we must also have appropriate controls over the resources we use to achieve the outcomes our team is striving for.   This isn’t an easy ask that Quinn and his colleagues are calling out!

Our personal beliefs and values bias us to one or two of the ‘quadrants’ captured by the Competing Values Framework (Collaborate, Create, Compete, Control).

This bias to one or two of the quadrants makes those quadrants a more comfortable or “natural” place for us to lead from.  Taken to an extreme, and not countered by an appropriate emphasis on the other quadrants, our bias as a leader will implicitly and explicitly downplay the value from the other dimensions causing our organization’s effectiveness to suffer. (If the organization’s primary focus is on the alternate dimension).

While we all bring amazing talents to the organizations we lead, Robert E. Quinn’s work on the Competing Values Framework prompts us, as leaders, to ensure that our personal beliefs and assumptions  aren’t impeding the organization’s effectiveness by ‘overplaying’ our strengths.  We are called to open ourselves and be self-aware to the dynamic tension and paradoxes we must address as leaders.  We must simultaneously enable our organizations to:  Collaborate and Compete; Create and Control!  By establishing an appropriate balance across these four dimensions of the Competing Values Framework we will positively impact the performance of the organization’s we lead.  To get there, we must first open ourselves to personal change, self awareness and learn to lead differently!

What are your experiences with Quinn’s Competing Values Framework?

Greg Fieger


We help organizations thrive by building strong leadership teams & driving sustainable growth.

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