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Leading in Paradox: An introduction to polarities

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We live in increasingly complex times. Such times require leaders to be adaptive and flexible, to accept that there may not be a ‘right’, ‘wrong’, or ‘single’ answer, and to be comfortable with uncertainty. This slideshare introduces leaders to understanding the difference between problems and polarities. It aims to start the conversation rather than provide the tools and strategies for leading in paradox.

Published in: Business, Spiritual
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Leading in Paradox: An introduction to polarities

  1. 1. Leading in Paradox: An introduction to polarities Dr Cheryl Doig
  2. 2. Leading in Paradox: An introduction to polarities We live in increasingly complex times. Such times require leaders to be adaptive and flexible, to accept that there may not be a ‘right’, ‘wrong’, or ‘single’ answer, and to be comfortable with uncertainty. Adaptive leaders are able to: • differentiate between a problem to be solved and a polarity to be managed; • adapt their leadership to the context; • explore and synthesise connections; • probe, sense and and respond based on skills of listening, inquiring and challenging own assumptions; • connect and engage; • undertake retrospective analysis of blind spots and connections missed; • unlearn, learn and relearn. Managing polarities is imperative to leading change in the future. These slides are designed to start the conversation.
  3. 3. “The nature of paradox, turning things on their head, flipping ideas upside- down —and knowing how to reconcile and ride the tension of opposites—is at the heart of leadership and indeed life.” 3 Sir Paul Callaghan
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Polarities • have interdependent alternatives • tend to be ongoing and oscillate • have no definitive end point to solving the problem • since they are not solvable, they have to be managed • require „and-both‟ thinking 5 www.thinkbeyond.co.nz
  6. 6. Problems • independent • can be solved • have a definite end point • don‟t re-occur over time 6 www.thinkbeyond.co.nz
  7. 7. Examples of polarities • cost & quality • individual & team • planning & action • idealistic & pragmatic • action & reflection • stability & change • centralised & decentralised • internal & external focus • customise & standardise • task & relationship 7 • freedom & accountability • short term & long term • flexibility & structure • work & home • controlling & participative • individual & collective • effective & efficient • activity & rest • mission & margin • rational & intuitive Interdependent pairs
  8. 8. 8 Is the difficulty ongoing? Are the two poles interdependent? http://www.flickr.com/photos/16230215@N08/5300354275/ www.thinkbeyond.co.nz
  9. 9. 9www.thinkbeyond.co.nzhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/76172701@N00/2157057475/
  10. 10. 10 Polarity mapping is a powerful tool for helping leadership to cope with this complexity www.thinkbeyond.co.nz http://www.flickr.com/photos/50451886@N00/3534516458/
  11. 11. If you are interested in exploring practical strategies for polarity mapping, adaptive leadership, complexity and futurescaping your organisation please contact us. 11 www.thinkbeyond.co.nz/contact

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