Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Developing Leadership Effectiveness Using a Polarity Lens Part 1
Healthcare leaders work in complex and continuously changing environments. The challenges in this environment require new levels of leadership effectiveness. Leaders who capitalize on complexity have the capacity to supplement Either/Or problem solving skills with Both/And thinking.
June’s story illustrates developing leadership effectiveness using a polarity lens.
Feeling the pressure to meet performance improvement goals, June noticed herself becoming increasingly impatient with her staff. She asked for help to ensure her staff implemented her well-developed strategy and completed their tasks. Before discussing this, June agreed to explore her experience of being impatient and the impact it was having on her and the team.
During our conversation, June became aware that her impatience was connected to her need to control the outcome of the project in order to be recognized for the achievement and avoid the embarrassment of failure. This awareness shifted June’s perspective from wanting to control the outcome to ensuring she was being an effective leader. We discussed this dilemma and tension using the lens of Polarity Thinking.
Polarities are “An interdependent pair of values or alternative points of view that appear different and unrelated, competitive, or even opposite, but in reality need each other over time to reach outcomes neither can reach alone.” (Wesorick, 2016 p.6) Polarity Thinking supplements Either/Or problem solving with Both/And thinking.
June was experiencing a common leadership polarity: Task AND Relationship. Task and relationship each have a pole in the polarity and each have important values and benefits. However, when one pole of a polarity is overemphasized to the neglect of the other pole, over time, the result will be to experience a negative, defeating energy; a vicious energy system leading toward a deeper fear. June realized her impatience was due to her overemphasis on task to the neglect of relationships driven by her fear of failure and letting her team down.
When we find ourselves in the energy of the downside of the pole we have overemphasized, we have a natural tendency to course correct. June acknowledged when she notices herself becoming impatient it is a warning sign for her to evaluate how she is leveraging Task AND Relationships and adjust her energy accordingly.
As June recognized the impact her overemphasis on task was having on her team, she described what she and her team were missing out on by not leveraging the value of relationships. When they trust and support one another, they know their achievement far exceeds what any one of them could accomplish alone. When both Task and Relationship are leveraged a virtuous energy system is created that leads to the teams greater purpose of creating a thriving workplace.
At the end of our conversation June shared she was grateful for her new awareness that being an effective leader required her to have the knowledge and skills for the tasks to be accomplished AND self-awareness to recognize when there is a problem to solve or a polarity to leverage.
Part 2 of this blog will explore problems to solve and polarities to leverage along with a Polarity Map® and Five-Step S.M.A.L.L process for individuals and teams to leverage polarities.
Wesorick, B. (2016) Polarity Thinking in Healthcare: The Missing Logic to Achieve Transformation, Amherst, MA: HRD Press Inc.
Polarity Thinking – Dr. Barry Johnson www.polaritypartnerships.com
Blog post submitted by: Danine Casper, MHA, St. Joseph’s Adjunct Faculty Member HA 511 Leadership in Health Administration. Danine is also a Leadership Coach and Consultant. www.aponicoaching.com