A World Full of Paradoxes

Posted by Edyta Pacuk & filed under Organizational Psychology.

Feeling overwhelmed and confused? You are not alone.

LEGO has identified 11 paradoxes to remind managers and leaders of the tensions they need to balance at all times. Here are some of their realities:

  • To be able to establish close relationships with your employees – and to keep the proper distance
  • To take the lead – and to recede into the background
  • To be tolerant – and to know how you want things done
  • To aim at consensus – and to be able to cut through
  • To be self-confident – and humble

Since we live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, leaders need to make sense of increasingly more demanding and competing demands that create tension and stress.

In our practices, we observe numerous complex challenges and paradoxes our clients face. You need to…

  • Think globally, yet act intimately and locally
  • Be externally focused whilst driving the operations
  • Drive the success of your business unit and be a good team player
  • Focus on strategy and on short-term results
  • Be a good corporate citizen and remain bottom-line driven
  • Balance control and trusting empowerment
  • Walk a fine line between internal competition and collaboration
  • Try to keep a sane life – professional and personal

This is crazy, no? It only further illustrates our business realities today. I am pretty sure the trend will continue and you, upon reflection of your professional pressures, will be able to come up with an even more interesting list of dichotomies.

So, how do you deal with it? Here are a few tips we hope will be of value to you. And if you have any magical thinking to share – please do! We can all learn from your toolkit.

  1. Don’t judge the situation in a Platonian way. It does not have to be approached as “black or white”, “right or wrong”. Rather than focusing on the difference, explore how to combine both and create a happy compromise. The polarities you face have benefits and pitfalls. Try to identify conflicting priorities, and examine how you can connect or expand on the positive aspects of both and risk manage the negatives.
  2. Consider how you can develop a more integrative way to address these competing demands.
  3. Focus on high-value activities. Being clear about strategic and tactical issues will put some of the pressures in the right perspective and help you to prioritize.
  4. Whilst managing different stakeholders – don’t go at it alone. Involve others to benefit from more robust problem solving and, by doing so, validating that the direction you choose makes sense.
  5. Breathe. No matter how complex your world is, your sanity and serenity greatly contributes to you being able to exercise good judgment, be creative and resilient.

As always, we are keen to hear from you –


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