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Both/and leadership

Smith, W., Lewis, M. W. & Tushman, M. (2016). Both/and leadership. Harvard Business Review, May(2016),


Leaders face a multitude of strategic paradoxes-contradictory pressures that are too often viewed as "either/or" choices. There are "innovation paradoxes," in which the pursuit of new offerings and processes conflicts with the mandate to sustain the tried and true. There are "globalization paradoxes," which involve tensions between local imperatives and boundary-crossing integration. And there are "obligation paradoxes," when the goal of maximizing profits for shareholders clashes with the desire to generate benefits for a broader group of stakeholders. The authors argue that organizational success depends on simultaneously addressing such conflicting demands, not choosing between them. Leaders need to become comfortable with multiple truths and inconsistency. They need to assume that resources are ample rather than scarce. And they need to embrace change instead of seeking stability. All of this will help organizations reach a state of dynamic equilibrium, wherein paradoxes don't impede progress--they spur it. And the way to tap the potential of paradox is to both separate and connect opposing forces: Managers must pull apart the organization's goals and value each of them individually, while also finding linkages and synergies across goals.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Departments: Bayes Business School
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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