Leveraging polarities

infinityUnderstanding the normal flow and dynamics of how polarities operate in our world and workplace can give leaders valuable insights into managing not only change efforts but many complex unsolvable problems. In fact, in their August 2013 e-newsletter, the Center for Creative Leadership listed leveraging polarities as one of the key areas that senior executives must master in order to lead strategically.  They state:

Senior leaders constantly wrestle with the strategic and practical implications of priorities that appear to be in conflict. They debate the merits of global vs. regional, rewarding the team vs. rewarding individuals, centralized vs. decentralized. To be successful in today’s environment, leaders must leverage the value of each, rather than viewing them as “either/or.”

I’ve observed that leaders of change can create their own resistance, when they treat the change/stability polarity as an “either/or” choice, rather than a “both/and” solution. This often happens when leaders focus only on the new ideas or improvements that the change brings, while ignoring some of the pitfalls of change.  To head off resistance, it is important for leaders to simultaneously discuss the things that the organization does well and is not changing. Simply put, it can help to speed adoption of change efforts, when leaders discuss both what will be changing and what will be staying the same.

What advice do you have for leaders to leverage the value of both change and stability?

Anita Rios


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