Apr 11, 2022 2 min read

Mastering Context

Level up your leadership. Each edition is a < 3 min read, & contains an original article summary, an actionable snippet, a set of reflection prompts, & a reading recommendation.​


Original Article Summary

In my article Mastery of Context in Leadership, I do a deep dive into the idea of context and how important it is for leaders to master it. At first glance, context is either straightforward or invisible. But take a closer look and it is one thing leaders have to be masters of.

In many ways, the job of leadership is to master and reengineer the context that surrounds their teams and organizations.

Often, we can see and feel it when we work with great leaders/managers but we cannot necessarily articulate why. One characteristic of the great ones is their mastery of context.

I explore the importance of context and the many ways it directly influences performance. It also goes untapped, because of our propensity to delve into the content rather than the context.

Click here for the entire article.​


Actionable Snippet

Context is something that is ever present whether we are aware of it or not. If we do not design one, there is a default one. Often our context restricts rather than enables. This week’s snippet is from the reading recommendation for this week.

There is another choice, but it requires executive reinvention, a serious inquiry into oneself as a leader.

This is not a psychological process to fix something that’s wrong, but an inquiry that reveals the context from which an executive makes decisions. ​People have contexts just as organizations do.

Our individual context is our hidden strategy for dealing with life; it determines all the choices we make. On the surface, our context is our formula for winning, the source of our success. But on closer examination, this context is the box within which a person operates and determines what is possible and impossible for him or her as a leader and, by extension, for the organization. ​

… Context is like the color of the light, not the objects in the room. Context colors everything in the corporation. More accurately, the context alters what we see, usually without our being aware of it.

Reflection Questions

Consider the following in the light of your context:

  • What is the box that we have drawn for ourselves that we are operating from?
  • All of us have one. Is yours by design or by default?​

Leader’s Library

This week’s recommendation is a classic 1993 Harvard Business Review article that I reference in my article. While not explicitly stated, the main thrust is the importance of context. The examples are dated but the basic ideas are timeless and even more applicable today.

It is a slightly longer read but well worth the effort.

Harvard Business Review- The Reinvention Roller Coaster

That’s it for this edition. Have a great week!

– Sheril Mathews

Sheril Mathews
After a 20 year stint in various technical/management/leadership/ positions in the wilds of corporate America I started LS to help leaders & high performers level up their game.
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