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.

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  • The attraction of opposite polarities is primary in God's universe. When people hear "the sixth sense" they think of something mystical, but, there is a real sixth sense that not all people notice: magnetism. Magnetic fluxes are closed circuits of the one substance, energy, in the one substance, energy. The most personal magnetic fluxes are the polarizations of the the iron in the cytochromes that close and open the doors of every cell. These fluxes, facing out, are counterclockwise in males, and, facing out, clockwise in females. The repulsion of like polarities clashing against their closed circuits is seen by many people as "flaming" white white light "brighter than the sun". This is caused by the repelling like polarities clashing against the closed circuits of the iron in the cytochromes of the cells of the optic nerves. Of course, it also causes magnetic stress in all the other cells causing other bad feelings. It was explained in a past issue of Discover Magazine that this sensitivity is the cause of a sense of direction. This explains the response to human polarities. Cells are so small that the physical human "aura" is a surrounding cloud of human cells. Everything in the universe is either composed of closed circuits, or is a closed circuit. Counterclockwise and clockwise are the only real polarities in the universe.
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  • Hi Ali
    I think polarities are more of an issue now because of the increased complexity of change. Increasingly, we cannot have certain outcomes and need to manage the 'dance of the grey' rather than work with black and white. This requires a both-and mindset.
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  • Cheryl- this is an interesting topic. I like the examples you provided for polarities (Slide 7).
    I have a question though. These polarities have been there all times. Why have they become an issue these days? It is because of rapidity of change?
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  • Sir Paul Callaghan, one of New Zealand’s most influential scientist’s and New Zealander of the Year 2011, understood the importance of paradox.
  • Polarities are sometime referred to as dilemmasor sticky situations!
  • An example of a polarity - downsizing requires a focus on costs and people – they are opposed but inter-related.
  • A problem to be solved is either/or – for example moving to a new office complex. Which one shall we choose?
  • Become well versed with naming polarities in your field and sector
  • Eg juggling – you can’t alter the throwing without affecting the catching. You can’t say I will just do the catching bit.
  • 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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