What Is Ambidextrous Leadership And How Is It Helpful?

In simple terms, ambidextrous means using your right and left hand in equal measure. From an organizational point of view, it refers to the fact that organizations use exploitation and exploration methods at the same time to be successful.

This means taking advantage of opportunities and circumstances that require you to conduct business activities that redefine the current model by taking risks.

If an organization performs well in exploitation and exploration, it is capable of experiencing continuous and fast growth.

Companies that focus too much on exploration risk wasting resources on ideas or concepts that can never be developed or may not be feasible.

On the other side, organizations that focus a lot on exploitation are never able to achieve an optimal level of success.

The Definition Of Ambidextrous Leadership

This is a form of leadership where the leader possesses both qualities. In practice, he is a leader who does not avoid risks.

Research indicates that this form of leadership is associated with positive achievements and leads to improvement for established businesses or start-ups.

The Dimensions Of Ambidextrous Leadership

The goal is to make your current business more effective and efficient, and developing new streams for the future is a challenge for most organizations.

A person is called “ambidextrous” as they engage in opposing behaviors depending on the situation. There are a few dimensions that require ambidextrous leadership, as follows:

  • Leading yourself means having the ability to make outrageous jumps, whereas putting yourself in a situation to find your quiet center.
  • Leading strategy: as a leader, you need to cash in on the available short-term opportunities within the confines of the existing strategy, but at the same time, you need to have the capability to let go of the strategy and build a new one. They need to have an idea of which approach is to be used.
  • Leading stakeholders: This is a procedure for how you will follow formal procedures while also being able to work in an informal network to achieve mutual goals.
  • Leading people: When managing people, ambidextrous leaders have the ability to lead from the front, telling them what to do, and if the need arises, take a step back on what is to be done as a coach.
  • Leading execution: at this point in time, you need to formulate flawless execution replicating the best class of routines, while at the same time, you need to let go of the routines to experiment.

Balancing the act

To be an ambidextrous leader, you must take a step back and be decisive with others; this style has been well-documented over the years.

But this is not an easy thing to do if people are following a top-down leadership model. Some managers are happy to do their job but do not want to take any form of initiative to do more.

It is equally tricky to take a step back and hand over the responsibility to someone else. The general rule would be that the empowering quality would be your default setting.

Handing over power to some is not going to come naturally to a lot of people. This requires an enormous degree of self-awareness, and this is what the leadership style is all about.

Ambidextrous Organisations And How They Embrace Disruption And Create An Organisational Advantage

In the competitive world, a business requires two types of capabilities: the first is to be creative and fast, and the second is scale-driven and productive.

Due to the volatile market, it calls for a degree of adaptability and flexibility. The top executives are challenged to deliver on both of these requirements.

The concept of ambidextrous leadership provides flexible and balanced answers.

An example of a company that follows an ambidextrous leadership style

A prime example of a company that embraces ambidextrous leadership is Amazon. They are always on the lookout for innovative ideas, aiming to deliver customer needs before people realize they need to acquire them.

Amazon has gone on to build a sustainable competitive advantage that has become the best practise in the industry.

To complement the creative side, Amazon has gone on to become a champion in productivity. If a new approach happens to be successful, it is rolled out immediately.

Not every company is looking to follow the path of Amazon and should not opt to do so.

The Reasons You Need To Become An Ambidextrous Leader

When you participate in leadership training, some trainers use personality tests to help you gain more awareness of your leadership style.

The goal is to learn more about yourself to balance your strengths and weaknesses. Increasing self-awareness is going to help you in every area of your life.

Increasing self-awareness will help you in every area of your life, as some activities may come naturally to you, whereas others could be a struggle.

No perfect leader exists, and everyone has an intimate tool to work with. You must know the toolbox required and how to work around it.

The two sides of leadership

At a basic level, there are two sides to leadership, and it is well-known that leaders are more attracted to one side than the other.

Just like in real life, both hands are needed, and one is bound to be more dominant than the other.

The two sides of leadership are people and task; the task side is about the work, while the people side is about the team.
Leadership is known to combine both of them, as it is the work being done through your team. It is obvious that leaders are biased towards a certain type of person, and it is very rare that a leader is strong on both sides.

People: taking care of the team

A leader who is strong on the people’s side is aware of how to take care of the team. Team members love the leader as they are well-understood and supported by the leader.

Under their leadership, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the work is delightful.
Having said that, the leaders often struggle to get the team to reach its target and produce results.

Everyone enjoys themselves, but less work is being done. For the leaders, all that matters is that the people are happy.

Tasks: getting the job done

A leader who is strong on tasks can get the job done. They work hard, and just like taskmasters, they ensure that the teams perform to the best of their abilities. Under this form of leadership, productivity will continue to soar.

Often, it is seen that leaders have a hard time understanding the human side of their role. They will have less empathy when it comes to people’s struggles.

The motto is to get the job done, and whether you are unsatisfied in your personal life does not matter. For them, you need to stop whining and get back to work.


Let us get things straight, as the task and people sides are not mutually exclusive as the matrices are presented to give a better idea of the leadership style.

But both sides are necessary for effective leadership, just like you are going to need both hands to play basketball.

However, because you are naturally task- or people-oriented, you must be aware of the raw material you are working with.
When you answer this question, you can work on your strong side and reduce the grey areas of your weak side.

If you happen to be a task person, then you would be empathetic to the challenges or needs of the team members.

On the other hand, if you are a people person, you know how to get the work done and motivate your team members to do the same.

When you combine both of these leadership styles, you will develop the ability to use both styles of leadership effectively. Hence, you become an ambidextrous leader and an exceptional leader.

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