Navigating Polarities

We experience polarities every day, in every facet of our lives.

Ever learned about something for the first time and suddenly you see it everywhere? Polarities are like that. Most have never heard of the word, but once they learn it, they see polarities everywhere. Polarities can feel like a tension that shows up in our relationships, teams, organizations, communities, and cultures. These interdependent, yet seemingly opposite, states that must coexist for success over time can create significant suffering — as well as stunning success.

Our Introduction to Polarities.

Gain a deeper understanding of what polarities are, where they show up, and how they work. This video gives a quick glimpse at how to navigate them effectively and why they are so central to our work with leaders and organizations.

You Can Do Both.
And Do Both Well.

How do you do two seemingly opposite things at once? How can you be candid and diplomatic, provide structure and flexibility, keep things stable and lead change, focus on the organizational interests while simultaneously doing what is best for employees?

Many leaders, teams, and organizations innocently and unconsciously approach polarities with an Either/Or mindset — either I have to do this or that. However, those using a Both/And mindset outperform those who don’t. They direct and empower, exude competence and warmth, take action and step back to reflect. The key is knowing how. 

Discover the “Third Way” Mindset

Actions and choices don’t have to be Either/Or — they can be Both/And. When the poles are blended, a valuable “Third Way” of viewing the world becomes clear. It combines the benefits of both poles without excluding anything about either. The Third Way calls us to expand into a bigger way of seeing and being.

This was the most valuable session thus far in Capital One’s Leadership Lighthouse series. I have not seen this topic addressed in this way before. I will begin using the 6 Key Polarities of Leadership and the Polarity Navigator for self-exploration and practical application. Awesome materials and a great presenter with the specific example!

Participant, Leadership Lighthouse Polarity Master Class

The Paradots™

Isn’t that fun, it sounds like paradox. Here’s the reason we use them – we help people navigate polarities and our paradots are what we use to show two qualities that appear to be polar opposites from each other, but really need one another to be complete. One of the tricky parts of dealing with polarities is we don’t have a word for a leader who harmonizes confidence and humility or an organization that blends structure and flexibility. This often means that we can only talk about, or make sense of, them as two distinct objects that sometimes join together. Using the word “and” between the poles of a polarity continues to separate the poles and hold them as two distinct entities. Replacing the word “and” with :: allows for the closest representation of concepts that are simultaneously distinct, and connected which for us is more symbolic of a polarity and the Third Way.