Paradox: ‘A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true’ (Cambridge Dictionary).
Leaders are often confronted with paradoxical situations and have to ask themselves how to cope with these. At times the very way that we need to be is contradictory to how we should be. And so the leader begins to wonder – Am I wrong? Am I supposed to feel this way?
We have all grown up with the idea of the heroic leader; the one who has all the answers, the one who makes excellent decisions and can lead people to new territories. These figures loom large in folklore, religious texts, and cultural discourses as well as in the countless biographies of iconic leaders.
Thus when we mere mortals ascend to leadership positions we are often shaken by our experiences and feelings.
There was no management text that suggested that I would be nervous when telling staff what to do, or that I have a sinking feeling in my gut after taking control of the team’s decision or that when I looked in the mirror this morning I couldn’t recognise who I became.
There are no simple answers to these complex situations and leaders must learn to recognize and hold the tensions that these create.
Some common examples of situations that evoke these tensions are:
- Keeping an eye on vision, while executing daily tasks
- Making decisions collaboratively and maintaining the autonomy for the team
- Being sure of oneself and one’s course of action but remaining humble and open to feedback
On April 04, 2019 Judith Gail Gestalt OD Consultant (U.S.) and Kerrigan Roach- HR Professional (Barbados), will join me in discussing the paradoxical nature of leadership. We invite you to come and share your experiences with us as we discuss strategies and tools to assist leaders to cope. Check http://www.maxineattong.com/paradox-of-leadership-2019-seminar/ for more details, or register at