Dive Into Ambidextrous Leadership
Dr. Agus Setiawan

PhD Holder and result-oriented Director with 25 years experience with involvement in all levels of Business Strategy, Sales and Marketing, Managing Project and Product Development. Aside of managing a company, he is also the best corporate trainer and public speaker in seminar and conference.

Dive Into Ambidextrous Leadership

Innovation is a key factor in determining a company's competitive advantage, success, and long-term survival. For an organization to be productive, both employees and organizations must generate fresh, practical ideas and successfully promote and apply them. However, it’s difficult to understand how idea generation and later stages of innovation relate to one another. The execution of ideas is also not always the outcome of their generation, and the best ideas are not always chosen for implementation.

It has been suggested that leadership is a crucial factor to ensure the success of innovation, but ironically, we still lack understanding of the exact behaviors that leaders exhibit to drive innovation.

Then, the theory of ambidextrous leadership emerged.

What’s Ambidextrous Leadership?

The Ambidextrous Leadership Model was developed by (Vera & Crossan 2004) who claimed there’s a need for a shared leadership style because organizational learning sometimes thrives under reciprocal leadership and other times it’s better exploited under transformational leadership. Ambidextrous leadership is defined as the ability to flexibly promote both opening and closing leader behaviors in them.

Ambidextrous leadership is also described as a leader's ability to manage disputes by comprehending the perspectives and expectations of their team members while navigating the tensions between exploration and exploitation. Ambidextrous leadership is essential to avoid the mistakes of the past and meet the demands of the highly competitive environment in which the more globalized organizations operate today.

3 Components of Ambidextrous Leadership

According to this theory, ambidextrous leadership covers 3 components.

1. Opening leadership behaviours

It’s described as a set of behaviours that include pushing subordinates to try new things, encouraging them to do things differently, allowing them to think independently, and giving them the chance to do so. Which might entail fostering independent thought, looking for different approaches or procedures, and supporting employees in order to challenge the status quo.

2. Closing leadership behaviours

It’s described as a set of behaviors, representing corrective actions, setting instructions, and monitoring the goal achievement and a leader follows this type of leadership behavior when the situation requires workers to ensure that the their job duties are carried out. By following work processes, ensuring that laws are followed, monitoring target attainment, and taking corrective action when necessary, this type of behavior focuses on completing the work job efficiently and eliminating variety in worker behavior.

3. Temporal flexibility

It’s the ability to switch between opening and closing leader behaviours as the situation demands.

3 Supporting Pillars to Become an Ambidextrous Leader

In order to successfully become an ambidextrous leader, a person needs to have these 3 supporting pillars implemented within their team or even the whole organization. Below are the 3 supporting pillars to become an ambidextrous leader.

1. Entrepreneurial Mindset

Increasing the entrepreneurial spirit of the innovation team and the organization is the first pillar to be developed. Ambidextrous leaders are frequently esteemed for their technological aptitude. These days, ability alone is not sufficient; the leader also needs to add commerciality to their skill set.

2. Psychological Safety

A culture characterized by psychological safety is the second pillar that ambidextrous leaders should implement. This calls for a shift toward fearless organization that offers psychological safety to all people in the team. A bold, safe learning environment must be fostered by the ambidextrous leader to ensure success.

3. Resilient Teaming

Today’s business environment is incredibly volatile, and full of uncertainty. Greater resilience can be achieved by recording team behaviors to uphold ethics and policy in the proper way. An ambidextrous leader must be capable of steering a route that considers the opinions of individuals from throughout the organization.

To survive, innovation is crucial. Therefore, it has become more obvious that to manage complexity and rapid change at all levels, ambidextrous leadership should indeed be implemented to ensure success.

Gentle, C. & Metselaar, J. (2020). Achieving Ambidextrous Leadership: Driving “Perform & Transform” Innovation for Step-Changed Business Results. California Management Review.
Mascareno, J., Rietzschel, E.f., & Wisse, B. (2021). Ambidextrous leadership: opening and closing leader behaviours to facilitate idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization. European Journal of Work and Organizatonal Psychology, 2021, vol. 30, no. 4, 530-540.
Vera, D., & Crossan, M. (2004). Strategic leadership and organizational learning, Academy of management review, 29 (2), 222-240.

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