Balance of of the shield and the sword

For getting things done in an organization, any organization there are two fundamental skill sets needed.

First is the ability to keep the machinery going - keep the computer systems going, selling your current products, essentially keeping the lights on and if done well growing the business, getting more efficient and better. This is the shield, you need this to survive and if you do well a good shield will allow you to thrive.

Second is the ability to execute on key projects, this may be developing a new product, revamping a department, anything that is a one off effort that takes focus, fortitude and is not part of peoples normal jobs. This is also a key skill, the sword that allows you to strike and do more.

Both of these skills sets are key for a business and to be a good leader you should be able to do both.

While it is ok to have a preference for one of the two, it is important to be able to do both. Projects are great ways to demonstrate the ability to get things done and can provide tremendous value but without the understanding of the fundamental business behind the project is is hard to develop as a broader leader. On the flip side, someone who only knows how to keep the machinery running is unlikely to be able to understand the broader strategy that projects can provide.

You need both a sword and a shield.

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