Leading in a Paradox
Consistency is a good thing. “Leadership paradoxes” prevent consistency. This is according to a white paper by I/O At Work . This white paper entitled “Leadership Research Trends & Insights” is chock full of interesting ideas and the latest research on leadership. In fact, some of it might make your head spin. I didn’t think that “paradoxes” is a word, but indeed it is. I visited a website about paradoxes by Encyclopedia Britannica and it just gave me a headache. Trying to lead during a paradox situation at work will no doubt give you a headache as well.
The white paper offers that leaders who can engage in big picture thinking seem to fare better during paradoxical times. This has to do with the ability to see different perspectives. In other words, the paper goes on, clinging to one philosophy or perspective if you will, just for the sake of chasing consistency never works.
This reminds me of a time early in my career, when during an onboarding session, I made a statement to the effect that we treat different people differently. The gasp that came from the participants almost sucked the walls of the room in. I explained that we, as a form of good etiquette, for example would not go up to the CEO of the company dressed improperly and address him in an extreme casual or disrespectful manner just for the sake of consistently treating everyone as we treat our most causal friends. I think they got the idea. At least, I didn’t get fired. In leadership, the same principle applies as it is wise not to assume that one-size-fits-all when managing or leading your executive team.
As you’ve heard many times, effective leadership begins with self-awareness. This understanding then allows us to then begin to better understand others. In times of change, it is essential to understand how each team member will react to the chaos, and paradoxes change can create. For example, organizational growth.
There may be at least one person on the team who does not want to see growth. This is the person who is clinging to his or her own brand of consistency maintaining the status quo by a desire to keep the organization small. Another team member may look for change and create chaos simply because he or she is bored and therefore welcomes the changes and yes even the chaos that change can bring. Leading such diverse behavioral styles cannot be locked into a one-size-fits-all leadership style, philosophy, or consistent pattern.
For those of us who have had children, we are already trained in this paradox of personalities. My daughter was stubborn, strong-willed, and is still today quite opinionated. My son was amiable, pliable, and is still the more “whatever” behavioral style. As parents, we learned to adapt and even appreciate each of our children’s styles…and how best to parent or manage each of them. This “home leadership” is quite adaptable, indeed it’s essential for effective leadership…and that’s no paradox.
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