Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Addressing the Irony: Three Styles of Leadership

Addressing the Irony: Three Styles of Leadership

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Alternatively, the enemy can be identified in a more nuanced manner. The “enemy” can be poor quality of product or service. It can be poor management, inequitable labor policies, or ill-informed decision-making processes. If this latter perspective is embraced by an organization, then the enemy is likely to remain viable for many years—given that we can always find ignorance, injustice and poor group process in an organization!

The second kind of ironic challenge being faced by the courageous leader concerns decisiveness. It is very tempting to freeze when facing complexity, unpredictability and turbulence. And we are particularly inclined to free when there are contradictions swirling all around us. One is inclined to simply keep one’s balance when navigating the dancing and ironic landscape of a contemporary organization. The courageous leader must act rather than freeze. She must move forward rather than simply find balance.

While a canoe might be appropriate when moving down a rapidly flowing river, the white-water world requires a kayak and the capacity of the occupant of this kayak to both keep centered in the kayak and move forward through the turbulent white-water. Such is also the case for the leader of a white-water organization. In addition, the courageous leader must help other members of the organization face up to and engage decisions and actions in the face of complexity, unpredictability and turbulence.

Just as the wise leader must help other members of the organization appreciate the multiple perspectives that can be taken in viewing and analyzing the problems, dilemmas and mysteries (not just puzzles) facing the organization, so the courageous leader must enable her organization to take action and find an appropriate path—despite the fact that multiple directions can be taken. There are many forks in the road—this is part of the ironic condition—and in each instance, a decision must be made about the fork in the road to be taken. This is the ironic challenge of decisiveness.

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