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Polarity of Leadership: The Wisdom of "And"

June 21, 2017

Enterey, Enterey

Enterey Leadership Development Program (ELDP)

Cost and Quality. Stability and Change. Structure and Flexibility: Many conflicts are not problems to be solved; they are tensions within a polarity that can become a source of chronic strain undermining an organization.

Like yin and yang, a polarity is a set of two interdependent values that complement and conflict with each other. This construct is deeply ingrained in the way individuals, teams, and even nations think and identify. Neither pole is "right" or "wrong", but rather each carries a combination of upsides and downsides. As opposed to the traditional "either/or" mindset, polarity thinking involves a "both/and" philosophy, where each pole is incomplete and insufficient without the other. It fosters collaborative behaviors by moving individuals away from the "I am right and you are wrong" attitude to "we are both right and here's why."

Organizations of all sizes encounter polarities that divide their teams, such as that between individual and collective interests. Supporters of one pole generally tend to over-estimate upsides of their pole and downsides of the opposing pole, while simultaneously under-estimating downsides of their pole and upsides of the opposing pole. However, organizations that learn to handle polarities in a balanced way tend to generate higher performance and more sustainable positive outcomes. Business leaders can foster team chemistry and ease the burdens of change management through an objective, open-minded analysis of both perspectives.

Our latest ELDP workshop focused on identifying and managing polarities. We applied a 3-step method to real-life consulting cases, using diagnostic and action-planning tools to frame how we can work with organizations to capture benefits from both components of a polarity, while avoiding pitfalls that emerge as a result of imbalance.

Polarity of Leadership: The Wisdom of And

For more information on how to leverage these tools for your organization, request a meeting with us via hello@enterey.com.