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Why the ‘paradox mindset’ is the key to success

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201109-why-the-paradox-mindset-is-the-key-to-success

bbc.com

Why the ‘paradox mindset’ is the key to success
Although paradoxes often trip us up, embracing contradictory ideas may actually be the secret to creativity and leadership.

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The Paradox Mindset

Research found that people who embrace opposing demands show greater creativity, flexibility, and productivity.

This is called a "paradox mindset" and it can be cultivated.

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Thinking Like Einstein

Thinking Like Einstein

Reflecting on apparent contradictions can break down our assumptions and offer us new ways of looking at problems.

Psychiatrist Albert Rothenberg noted that each revolutionary thinker had spent time actively thinking of multiple opposites simultaneously. For example, Einstein considered how an object could be both at rest and moving depending on the position of the observer. This led to his relativity theory.

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The Power Of Conflict

Studies have shown that "paradoxical cognition" can help average thinkers to solve everyday problems.

Researchers demonstrated that people that have to reflect on apparently paradoxical goals, such as minimizing costs and maximizing innovation, are more creative than those who only consider one goal or the other.

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Having The Paradox Mindset

  • A study found that employees with a paradox mindset were better able to cope with "resource scarcity" at work. They found the challenge of limited resources inspiring and created better solutions to the problems within their role.
  • Leaders may find it important to note that managers with a paradox mindset influence the innovation of the whole team. Companies that embrace paradoxical strategies tend to outperform their competitors.

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Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

We can note any paradoxes we encounter and then make a point of contemplating them before we try to solve it.

Your own job may already contain contradictory goals that could inspire paradoxical cognition. Previously, you may have assumed that you need to abandon one of the goals, but now you might spend more time considering the ways you can pursue them both, simultaneously.

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The Stockdale Paradox

The Stockdale Paradox

The ability to acknowledge your situation and balance optimism with realism.

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The paradox mindset

To adopt a paradox mindset means to consider the world with a “both/and” approach instead of an “either/or” one.

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A paradox mindset can be cultivated

A simple framework to cultivate the paradox mindset :

  • Reframe the situation you're facing. When considering tensions, think in terms of enhancement and enrichment.
  • Accept the tension and develop comfort with the discomfort. With a paradox mindset, acceptance allows for the understanding that these tensions are a natural part of reality, and that we all experience them to a certain extent.
  • Distance yourself and search for new possibilities. We can try to distance ourselves from the problem and connect with others to get a different perspective

Peter Drucker

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

Peter Drucker

Change Leadership Styles

Sometimes a teammate needs a warm hug. Sometimes the team needs a visionary, a new style of coaching, someone to lead the way or even, on occasion, a kick in the bike shorts. 

For that reason, great leaders choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club, with a calculated analysis of the matter at hand, the end goal and the best tool for the job.

Daniel Goleman’s leadership styles

  1. Pacesetting leader - “Do as I do, now”: expects and models excellence and self-direction. 
  2. Authoritative leader - “Come with me”: mobilizes the team toward a common vision.
  3. Affiliative leader - “People come first”:  works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of belonging.
  4. Coaching leader - "Try this": develops people for the future.
  5. Coercive leader - “Do what I tell you”: demands immediate compliance.
  6. Democratic leader - “What do you think?": builds consensus through participation.