Want results?  Change your mindset

Brian Emerson
April 12, 2018

Leadership is about results. What we get done; How we show up; The impact our actions have on the bottom line. Usually, when we want different results or outcomes, we look to the first natural place to make a difference: our actions. What did we do? What did we say? What actions drove the results we got? And what new actions can we take to get the new results we need? It’s a completely logical approach.

Once identified, we put those new actions into place. Too often, though, these actions are not comfortable and we are unable to sustain them in the long term. We’ve all been there, but why? It’s because, although we are able to adopt the new actions, we haven’t adopted the mindset that supports and drives those actions. Our mindsets—how we see the world, how we make sense of ourselves in the world, how we view or think about the situations that we’re in—are what drive our actions. These mindsets, in turn, determine the results we get. 

Take the case of Adam. He gets feedback that he needs to increase employee engagement. When he sits down with his boss, they decide the best course of action to get the desired results is for Adam to empower employees by


Navigating Paradox with Polarity Maps

Brian Emerson

March 22, 2018

In 1989, Poole and Van De Ven predicted that future significant advances in organizational theory would “require ways to address the paradoxes inherent in human beings and their social organizations” (p. 562). It seems they were right. In the past several decades, there has been an increasing focus on paradox in both leadership and organizations. The discussion about paradox—the need to effectively attend to opposing, yet interrelated, tensions over time, has become robust (W.K. Smith & Lewis, 2011). However, while many talk about the importance and benefits of navigating paradox, few are offering pragmatic methods how to do so.

One exception is Barry Johnson’s work with polarity maps. The process of mapping provides a practical way for groups to deal with polarities and avoid the negative repercussions so often associated with paradox (Quinn & Cameron, 1988; Tracy, 2004). Or does it?  


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