Paradox: A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.
Leadership is rife with paradoxes, competing claims, countervailing pressures, and conflicts. There is frequently a “thesis” and an “antithesis” in leadership dilemmas, often requiring a “synthesis.” Here are some leadership paradoxes and other interesting dualities we have learned:
- Serving followers and being served by followers
- Flexing between the hard (steel) and soft (velvet) edges of leadership
- Being optimistic while staying grounded in reality
- Having confidence and humility
- Being decisive and collaborative
- Protecting people and taking necessary “casualties”
- Being in charge and unleashing other leaders
- Getting results (ends) with integrity (means)
- Preserving the best of the past and embracing change
- Making some lonely decisions and being connected
- Asking and telling
- Speaking and listening
- Being patient and impatient
- Knowing answers and asking questions
- Being strong and vulnerable
- Protecting power and empowering others
- Controlling and letting go of control
- Being competent yet always committed to continual learning
- Raising expectations and lowering expectations when necessary (1)
- Leading and following
- Using reason and emotion
- Being reflective and quick to act
- Using masculine and feminine approaches
Leadership Derailers Assessment
Take this assessment to identify what’s inhibiting your leadership effectiveness. It will help you develop self-awareness and identify ways to improve your leadership.
Tools for You
- Leadership Derailers Assessment to help you identify what’s inhibiting your leadership effectiveness
- Personal Values Exercise to help you determine and clarify what’s most important to you
- Alignment Scorecard to help you assess your organization’s level of alignment
(1) Thanks to Harvard’s Ron Heifetz for this insight. Sometimes leaders need to lower the expectations of followers to a more realistic and achievable level.
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Gregg Vanourek and Bob Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, and award-winning authors (and son and father). They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards. Check out their Leadership Derailers Assessment or get their monthly newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps!