A strong leader should know how to navigate paradox and their team through a crisis. This is not an easy task, but being equipped with the necessary FutureFit Skills can help you to work through competing tensions and collective uncertainty. What’s great about these situations is they, prompt managers, to embark on their own paradoxical leadership journey.
“Paradoxical leadership” is a style of management aimed at simultaneously mediating multiple facets, which may appear contradictory but are likely connected. A team that is wading the waters of a crisis will likely confront several paradoxes with the potential to trip them up along the way.
In today’s world, leaders must make space for the paradoxical situations that happen in the complex world we live and work in. Having a flexible mindset and using both/and versus either/or thinking is crucial.
How To Navigate Paradox As A Leader
Often organizations and the people working for them find themselves in an environment that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA).
Tensions build under these conditions and are overwhelming to understand and even more difficult to address. You must know how to navigate paradoxes and contradictory situations with concentrated thought and action.
Paradoxical challenges were brought to light after the pandemic and so we hope to provide you with the best practices to navigate paradox effectively.
Related Article: 15 FutureFit Skills: Dealing With Paradox
1. Timeliness Versus Accuracy
During times of uncertainty, your team members must know how to navigate paradox situations effectively. This means establishing timely, collective knowledge which is now increasingly more difficult because of a lack of consistent information.
Implementing long-term structural adjustments like remote working or hybrid setups is challenging when the situation informing these changes is both unfamiliar and actively developing.
When a challenging situation presents itself, it is essential for leaders to communicate effective information, or it could weaken their credibility as a leader. A lack of communication leaves employees feeling uncertain making all kinds of assumptions.
You can navigate paradox situations with effective communication so your team is always informed which will strengthen your team’s chemistry and ability to overcome challenges as a unit.
Approaching these situations with curiosity and proactive consideration is a leader’s best bet for surviving uncertain situations. Stay vigilant of the latest information as it emerges and articulate what you learn with timely guidance – though never at the expense of accuracy.
2. Uncertainty Versus Clarity
Humans are designed to crave stability and security which is why it’s hard to navigate paradox.
Business leaders generally have a natural instinct to provide their teams with security no matter the situation. However, providing empty reassurance can do more harm than good.
You do not want to navigate paradox by making false promises to team members as this builds distrust and eventual disappointment.
We recommend communicating with your team both your uncertainty and your efforts to manage it. This honesty will maintain the trust employees have in you and provide comfort in an uncertain time.
3. Personal Implications Versus The Big Picture
As a business leader, it is important to remind your team about the bigger picture – the vision.
When a crisis arises, the first thing team members think about is the personal implications it will have on their lives. Therefore, to navigate paradox in unexpected circumstances you should look beyond short-term profitability and individual health to understand how choices can impact an interconnected system.
Carefully articulate to your employees that their choices and actions carry an impact that extends beyond the team. Just like how remote work policies were designed to protect society, just as much as individual employees during the pandemic.
4. The Past Versus The Future
We can use past experiences as preparation for the next time we are faced with uncertainty.
This is often a period marked by great reflection on the part of employees. How do we navigate paradox? Once the chaos subsides, we can truly critique how we performed in the thick of it.
We would not recommend getting defensive. Rather than making excuses or attempting to dodge blame, own up to your own shortcomings and open a dialogue aimed at better understanding what you can do better next time.
While preparing completely for a crisis goes against its intrinsically unpredictable nature, embracing past mistakes and using them to inform general strategies for the future is a sign of effective, initiative-taking leadership.
5. The Imperfect Balancing Act
It is all about a ‘balancing’ act when you want to navigate paradox crises.
The goal is not to necessarily ‘solve’ the paradox because, by definition, which is impossible.
Instead of attempting to achieve perfection, aim to communicate proactively with your team and leave room to learn from those inevitable mistakes.
Agility To Navigate Paradox
In such a complicated world, businesses need to be more agile, and leaders must have a penetrating mind that understands a more confusing, interconnected life and workplace.
This is where learning to Deal with Paradox steps in and can illuminate what seems to be a murky path. P. Scott Fritzgerald used it in his short story “The Crack-Up” and the idea is present in the minds of modern society – “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. “