Chapter 12. Polarity Management: One Tool for Managing Complexity and Ambiguity

Barry Johnson

Effective Leaders Manage Complexity and Ambiguity

Through a combination of experience, intuition, and hard-earned wisdom, effective leaders have developed the ability to look within complex issues, identify opposites in tension, and capitalize on that tension. These interdependent opposites are sometimes called dilemmas or paradoxes. I call them polarities.

We all have a degree of ability in managing polarities. We have an implicit understanding that there are many opposites in our lives. Yet, most leaders do not have an explicit model and set of principles to both enhance their skills with these issues and to collaborate with others to intentionally ...

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