Leaders grapple with problems every day. Our particular ecosystem is complex and complicated. Understanding the dynamics of the questions themselves and tradeoffs that must transpire is critical for thoughtful decisions and for framing the conversations that must occur. Human nature gravitates towards simplification and it is our responsibility to constantly elevate the conversation to a level that better communicates and identifies the competing agendas of ideas.
In doing so, there are two high-level concepts that we must balance. The first is the concept of liberty versus equity. Liberty is defined as the desire to focus on individual desires and wants. Standardized care protocols versus the “art” of medicine lives within this axis. We strive for personalized care while simultaneously focusing on decreasing inequities. Politically, the conversation of individual mandates can be framed within this conversation, “I should have the liberty of not paying higher premiums for others that require care.” Our society has not addressed the fundamental tenant of what is better for me, may not be congruent with equity for others. Naturally, as a community that comprises different thoughts and expectations, there are numerous answers.
The second axis can be portrayed as a continuum between efficiency and community. We strive to enhance our abilities to deliver services and products efficiently for both cost containment and standardization of outputs. However, those involved lose both the sense of community and the enhancing joy of our callings. On the other hand, focusing solely on the personal growth within the context of our vocations leads to less efficient models. A prime example of this duality is the assembly line. Though incredibly efficient, those that work within such conditions are found to be further isolated and have less personal happiness in their work and lives. Once again, no single way or answer can optimize both conditions.
Our roles as servant leaders are to help others understand this compass and purposely strive for balances that create optimal situations for both individual and communities. We are also called to optimize our outputs within the context of stewardship of resources and in subsidiarity, the recognition of the gifts of individuals, with those we ask to serve. Not an easy task, but one we must embrace and seek out. Human flourishing is no less important than efficiency. Personal liberty does not trump the social justice of equity.
To continually remind myself of the task at hand, I have placed this compass on my desk. Only through a constant focus on trying to create balance will I be successful. Recognizing these four directions allows me to regularly adjust my path. Throwing up my arms and giving up because of the complexity is not an option. Let us use such compasses to give us guidance on our journeys.