MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 17, 2013) — Whether it’s gridlock in Washington or a need to refuel your business, today’s leaders must distinguish between the problems that can be solved and paradoxes that must be managed and balanced.
In his new book, Getting Unstuck: Using Leadership Paradox to Execute with Confidence (Productivity Press), author Ralph Jacobson moves beyond the tired excuses, fault-finding and rhetoric for government shut-down. Rather, he provides a fresh and more practical perspective on leadership that is as relevant on Capitol Hill as it is for anyone trying to reenergize a stalled organization.
Problems have solutions that when implemented, go away, writes Jacobson, the founder of The Leader’s Toolbox. Paradoxes must be balanced between contradictory opportunities and are never resolved.
The distinction is key.
When paradoxical issues are treated as problems the parties predictably get stuck. The rhetoric increases, the issues become more heated, and the walls between those with opposing points of view rise. People become more dogmatic than pragmatic. Using the power of the budget or political capital to settle paradoxes reduces our ability to implement the best possible actions and creates win-lose battles, the scars of which are likely to last for long periods of time.
Readers of Getting Unstuck learn that paradoxes exist in many parts of their lives. They experience them personally in their family relationships and professionally as they advance in their careers and become managers and leaders. The research in the book demonstrates that the effective management of organization paradoxes helps businesses become more adaptable and sustain profits over time. The author demonstrates that the challenges in ecology, healthcare, economic growth that seem to defy progress and resolution gain greater traction for improvement when the parties use the concepts and tools of paradox rather than problem solving to address them.
Getting Unstuck makes the concept of paradox accessible. It provides the concrete, practical, powerful tools to help individuals, organizations, and societies address the issues that concern them the most…and are most likely to keep them up at night.
Ralph Jacobson is the founder of The Leader’s Toolbox, faculty at the Physician’s Leadership College, and author of Leading for a Change: How to Master the Five Challenges Faced by Every Leader.