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The Unfinished Leader: Balancing Contradictory Answers to Unsolvable Problems by Cade Cowan, Peter C. Cairo, David L. Dotlich

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Puzzles and Paradoxes

Par-a-dox: noun, def. 3: one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.

—Merriam-Webster1

You often hear of top-flight managers who do so well at one company that another firm woos them away for a tidy sum—only to turn into losers at their new jobs. And you often wonder: How could wunder-kinds in one company so quickly become bona fide duds in another?

We can't tell you all the reasons why, but we know one of them. It relates to how people solve problems. As a way of explaining, let us tell the story of Ron, a client and the former hotshot leader at a travel services company. Ron, who made his name as a brainiac overachiever, could absorb, integrate, and act on vast mountains ...

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