Full Circle POV

Nurturing a holistic, integral point of view for greater leader and team effectiveness and member well-being.

Polarity Thinking

This all-day, working workshop familiarizes the participants with the Polarity Thinking concepts and dynamics. Polarities are interdependent, opposite motivational values that are equally important over time in order for a system to function most effectively. The pair of values in a polarity are inextricably linked; they are archetypal, universal in all people, everywhere. Common organizational polarities include centralized-decentralized structure, individual needs-team needs. Other examples of interdependent motivational values are competition/collaboration, action/reflection, quality/cost, other-focused/self-focused

Using identified polarities relevant to the team’s circumstances, the group works through the benefits and negative effects of over focusing of each pole, and creates action steps to leverage valuable upsides of both poles and approaches to anticipate and minimize the downsides of both.

My doctoral dissertation research focused on “Wrestling with Both/And: A Case Study on the Impacts of Polarity Thinking for a Corporate Leadership Team.”

Dr. Steve Manderscheid and I co-authored “Managing Polarity, Paradox, and Dilemma during Leader Transition” published in the European Journal of Training and Development and selected as a Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.

Polarity Management is a practical tool created by Barry Johnson that helps leaders and teams distinguish between problems to solve (where one answer among choices will suffice) and polarities to manage (where interdependent opposites–like cost-quality, centralized-decentralized, diplomacy-candor, and more–must both be managed). Many organizational problems and conflicts are, at root, polarities that require managing, and a default either/or approach doesn’t solve the issues and often exacerbates the problems.