Imagine that you’re a professional pitcher, or at least a really good nonprofessional pitcher. You’ve got your arsenal of fastballs, breaking balls and change ups. Of course, you decide which pitch you use at any given time.
Who you’re facing is critical in deciding which pitch you use. While you may have a blistering fast ball, you don’t use it every time, do you? Of course not. It’s not suitable every time, and the opposing players soon learn how to deal with you.
Let’s change it slightly. Will you pitch the same to a five-year old as you would to a college ball player? An eight year old? A 12-year old? A 17-year old? Of course not. You would adjust your pitch to each person.
Now, let’s switch perspective. Do you communicate with everyone in the same way? Strangely enough, a lot of people do. Some people use their fastball every time they deal with people. Why would someone do that? Because it’s fast and overpowering. It’s their most powerful pitch, and it makes them feel good when they throw it because they see communication as a competition. However, if the other person is not quick enough, the ball has passed by before then even realize it. It becomes intimidating because they know that, if they’re not careful, the ball can cause some major damage if it hits them.
Yes, there will be times when you need the fastball. In an emergency, perhaps. But, if you can’t tailor your pitch to the person you’re dealing with, people will stop swinging at your pitches. Eventually, they start finding ways to avoid playing on your team. Or, in real life, they stop listening to you. They come to fear interacting with you. Fear has no place in leadership.
As a leader, you always need to work at perfecting your pitches, finding new ones, and improving and modifying them to fit the situation. You can’t be a one-pitch leader and be effective.