Leadership Flexibility or the Law of Requisite Variety.

Written on: January 8, 2018

In: leadership by Elisa Coleclough

Law of Requisite Variety.

Let me begin by saying that the Law of the Requisite Variety is applicable to physics and to artificial intelligence and cybernetics mainly, so do not be ashamed if you have not heard of it before. To summarize this law says:


“The larger the variety of actions available to a control system, the larger the variety of perturbations it is able to compensate”


This applies to behaviors and reactions, the wider the range we have the better prepared we are going to be to interact with different types of individuals.


Opposing to having many versions available, you can say that the less options the better to make choices and the easier, let me remain you “what easy comes, easy goes”. It is true the more options, the greater the responsibility whatsoever.


Greater leaders and influencers are able to act effectively under a wide range of situations, they know what to say and how to behave, they master flexibility in speech and thinking, that is why sometimes we confuse that with being the “smartest” in the room.


Actually it is not the smartest, it is the more flexible the one that prevails in all situations at a minimum cost. What would be that cost? The one rarely gets noticed and lies within the feelings and the emotions. When we are flexible we suffer less emotionally as we tend to depersonalize things, and we understand some basic principle:


“The way people behave is not actually who they are”


Take for example a very simple case: you are a very assertive, smart, self-assured individual, but whenever you see that one person who makes your heart beat faster, you simply behave erratic. You are not erratic, you are just behaving that way, under certain given circumstances.


That is why probably first dates are not a killer for anyone, because we all tend to over react or shy away in unusual ways. Coming back to the topic of leadership, when we understand someone may be behaving in a certain way under a determined frame, it is like a picture, just an impression, we should not judge. There is more to a picture than the eye can meet in that very moment, so we give the benefit of the doubt thus depersonalize situation whether good or bad.


Therefore, flexibility in behaviors and ways of thinking lead to more inner peace, adapting to change proactively, you may not agree with other people, but there is no way to feel attacked or wronged by opinions or suppositions, instead a certain sense of curiosity drives you find out more on reasons and frame of mind.


Flexibility also understands that people act to their best of their abilities. We all do our best with what we have at THAT moment. It does not mean are limited to those resources only, it just means there is opportunity to broaden our mind scope thus our behaviors.


How do we get flexibility? By understanding and acting upon it. We need to increase our awareness first and incorporate feedback for every time we do not get the desired results. Any given behavior is learnt thru repetition so flexibility is a set of behaviors and thinking frame. It is born from incorporating feedback and opening ourselves to different options. It may sound like a paradox itself, but we need to be flexible to learn in order to incorporate flexibility in behaviors. The effort is worth all the while though. Leadership in a modern world were generations and genders and desires and ways of thinking are endless possibilities only those able to move across those possibilities will succeed. For as Newton’s Third Law observes:


“All forces between two objects exist in equal magnitude and opposite direction”



Finally, let me give you the full quote based on NLP presupposition:



“The person with the most flexibility in thinking and behavior has the greatest influence”



Looking forward to your comments in the box below, and don’t forget to subscribe in the box to the right to get notification every time a new blog is up. Have a great day/week, Eli