What to expect from the resource.
Brian Emerson & Kelly Lewis have written a short book about a complex topic, polarities: paradoxical situations in which two seemingly opposite yet interdependent states need to coexist over time in order for success to occur. Building on the work of Barry Johnson, they illuminate what polarities are, how they work, and most importantly, how to navigate them.
What we love about it.
Either/or thinking creates binary worlds. It narrows possibilities to this or that. It generates dichotomy and encourages parties to take sides, hunker down, and become Spartan in their commitment to never wavering. What we love is the possibility of creating a “third way”. Stepping onto this path asks the actor “to trust, to be courageous and to love”. The opportunity is to step into the wicked question of being “this and that” at the same time.
In addition to the Polarity Navigator tool which the writers offer, we also use the Liberating Structure Wicked Questions in our work with clients as it allows groups to embrace polarity thinking.
Why it matters to leadership in organisations.
Working with polarities means that we do show up in the workplace from a place of vulnerability and curiosity rather than righteousness and knowing. It means we recognise and hold space for complexity rather than trying to simplify. It means stepping into inquiry mode and out of advocacy mode. It means seeing others more fully and complex, and not just as a simple caricature, which only serves our ego needs, rather than the needs of wicked the questions we are wrestling with.
In his 2020 compendium of Linkedin posts, “Coming Together”, Liberto Pareda, offers thoughtful reflections and inquiries on the gifts of holding the paradox of polarities for ourselves and for clients. Wishing you grace and strength, Liberto.