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A Blog by Art Dykstra


From My Pad to Yours is about leadership and other topics, and is written by Art Dykstra, the CEO of Trinity Services, Inc.

Living with Organizational Pain

by Art Dykstra | Mar 08, 2017

With an inherent understanding that people leak and people stray, it is not a remarkable insight to say that leaders are all too often faced with the dilemma of living with a gap between what is wanted and what is realized. Becoming aware that this gap is really a condition of human nature reflecting our own fallibility in an organizational context helps us respond better to feelings of guilt, doubt and loss of self-respect. In addition to organizational gaps, there are also perceived gaps — something that Freud described in the 1930s as the variance between the ego and the ego ideal.

What does all of this mean? It means that, in our personal and professional lives, a gap always exists between what we want to do and what we actually do.

Some time ago, a friend introduced me to the distinction between a condition — something I can’t do anything about — and a problem — something I can improve or resolve. Employees coming to work late, calling off work, being totally productive one day and wayward the next are examples of organizational conditions.

Leaders must confront these issues and work to close the gaps between the ideal and the reality. But a leader must understand that the gaps will never be closed. Problems, on the other hand, such as changing the work schedule, repairing a leaky roof or hiring a new receptionist, can and should be resolved.

A graduate student of mine once pointed out another gap we may experience when he asked, “Art, how do you act like a leader when you feel like a follower?”

I’m not sure I have the answer to that question even now. Perhaps the disparity between the ideal leader we want to be and the reality of who we are is a gap we will never close either.

As leaders, we must prepare ourselves to experience and accept that what we want to accomplish may never be fully achieved. That’s called living with organizational pain.

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