The following is a guest post from Ralph Jacobson. I am very excited to be part of his book launch for Getting Unstuck: Using Leadership Paradox to Execute with Confidence.
When we see two people arguing or unable to move forward, our first assumption is that something is broken or that someone must be at fault. In the process of trying to fix the situation, we provide the “answers” that are intended to reduce the tension that has ensued. We might see someone as being unreasonable, not having the communications skills or right personality style. Sometimes that works. But in complex organizations where there are multiple disciplines, agendas, time frames, etc. there is great complexity and these simple answers are not satisfying.
Instead of seeing the unfolding of the issues as problems that can be solved perhaps the lens of paradox opens a more productive dialogue and results in greater possibilities for success. What if it isn’t anyone fault or what if it isn’t a flaw in someone? What if this is a situation in which there are multiple perspectives that are both right and wrong at the same time? What if it wasn’t personal deficiency at all? What if in fact the parties are supposed to have differences. That each from their own perspective is doing what they should. Well then how do you get to a favorable outcome? How does one then address the tensions?
In the majority of circumstances I see both formerly as a Human Resource Executive and as a consultant/coach over the last 20 years, I realized that much of the advice doesn’t work because these are not problems that can be solved. Rather they are paradoxes that must be balanced. Unfortunately the word paradox sounds off-putting, academic. The reality is that to be human requires us to deal with paradoxes every day, in most of our human encounters. Leaders spend an inordinate amount of time addressing paradoxical issues.
I wrote Getting Unstuck: Using Leadership Paradox to Execute with Confidence because I found no other book that provided practical advice to deal with leader, role, organization, and societal paradoxes. Indeed there are powerful, practical tools to address many of those issues which needlessly keep us up at night.
For more than twenty-five years Ralph Jacobson provided innovative solutions for Fortune 50 organizations as well as emerging growth companies in a wide variety of industries. For the last twenty years he has been the Principal of The Leader’s Toolbox Inc. He has held executive Human Resource positions with Medtronic, Crosfield Dicomed, and General Growth Center Companies, and has written extensively in the areas of leadership and organization change. His book, Leading for a Change: How to Master the Five Challenges Faced by Every Leader, was named one of the top business books by mgeneral.com. His new book, Getting Unstuck: Using Leadership Paradox to Execute with Confidence, is available on Amazon.