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Leadership: Whatcha been thinkin’ ‘bout it? How you been thinkin’ ‘bout it?

I assert that great leadership requires a certain amount of certainty in order to provide clarity. See if you agree. Agreeing or not agreeing would be bringing your opinion to my writing. Feel free to respond back after you’ve read the entire blog…..

In the workplace, clarity would be demonstrated by upper management communicating clearly what is expected and by when, so that you, as a contributor to a greater goal, can be effective with your contribution. You know if you have achieved the outcome in the desired time frame. Work is extra rewarding when credit for your work and acknowledgment for your skills come with the accomplishment. Today, are you satisfied that clarity is a contribution from your manager that you receive? Does your manager receive clarity from his/her boss?

Paradoxically, it is also important that your leader exhibit openness to your suggestions, isn’t it? What if you know something, let’s say you are on the front line directly communicating with customers and you see an issue that isn’t currently factored into customer service. You want this customer disturbance to be known because it’s negating your good work. But no, you are shut down when you want to point out a fact that differs from the current management view. What do you do when you are shut down when you want to contribute? Has that happened to you?

This conundrum actually holds powerful potential to improve your performance as a contributor, and the manager’s potential to make your role more effective.

A paradox is two seemingly opposite traits, optimally expressed as both/and because the impact of one dominating creates an inherently negative impact. An example of this imbalance impact is the phrase, “tough love.” You’ve heard it used in parenting contexts. You probably can relate to this explanation of paradox because you are either a parent, and/or you’ve been a child! Tough by itself doesn’t seem to fit with love, does it? Love certainly doesn’t make you think of tough! And if you think of them both together, without some of each a child will suffer the impact of that imbalance.

In the previous paragraphs I described the paradox of being certain of one’s own opinions, and being open and reflective regarding others’ opinions. When a paradox is dealt with as either/or, everyone loses. Even a strength becomes a weakness when it’s out of balance with its paradoxical opposite. Certain is the dynamic trait of a paradox called the Opinions Paradox. Open/reflective is the gentle trait.

In parenting, too much tough means not providing positive reinforcement, which has potential long-term negative consequences as the child grows up. You may have experienced this imbalance as a child. If so you ABSOLUTELY recognize its impact.

Too much love means providing too few boundaries, so that the over-loved child grows up without understanding the parameters of acceptable social behaviors. At the early stages, people won’t want to sit near this family in a restaurant. Evidence of this imbalance is tolerance of a child screaming and running around. As the child grows up, this over-loved imbalance can turn into an entitlement mentality, an expectation that anything one does is OK in the world.

Consider the Thomas Jefferson quote, “Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to truth.” Download these coaching Tips to see the impacts of the OPINIONS paradox. You can apply these lessons to your own workplace.


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