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What's in store for leadership development in 2014? Why, managing polarities!

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Cognitive intelligence evolved into the dominant cultural force for perceiving the world and making decisions in the West primarily due to the influence of Descartes (17thC). Descartes (and others) gave us reason (Cognito ergo sum or I think, therefore, I am).

The Age of Reason was birthed in Europe during the 18th century enlightenment and spread to urban centers in France, England, Scotland, Germany and the rest of the continent – arriving in the American colonies in the latter half of the 1700s.


The 21st century is a time in which we can rediscover the ways we perceived the world and made decisions that were lost to us in the age of reason. Namely, we can develop ourselves intuitively. Then, we can marry reason and intuition to make decisions from a whole-person approach.


Overarching core interpersonal communication skills of listening, observing and relating to others are three supra-intrapersonal communication skills: self-intelligence, instinct and intuition (3Is).

When the core and supra-skills are integrated with each other – a holistic communication approach – they create new ways of perceiving the world and making decisions.

Ergo, our decision-making becomes more authentic which, in turn, can lead us to healthy solutions.


Here’s the skinny on decision-making as an organizational leader* from a holistic communication approach:

1. The core interpersonal communication skills are ‘artisan’s tools’ for creating a healthy organizational culture. They are largely grounded in reason.

2. The 3Is or supra-skills are ‘artisan’s tools’ for crafting a fine work of art – a whole person – you (as leader). They are largely intuitive in nature.

3. The core and supra communication skills are creative – not descriptive. Integrate them (e.g., reason and intuition) in your leadership skills portfolio to make healthy decisions about people, information and things.

4. The 21st century is making leaders anew. The new leadership calls for the integration of polarities within the psyche of leaders – one such polarity being reason and intuition.

5. The 21st century is making organizational culture anew. It’s a time when ‘how we do is as important as what we do’ – a polarity for the organization as a whole.

6. Integrating polarities at individual, team and organizational levels can be learned much like an artisan learns his craft.


‘Embrace opposing forces. Leverage polarities. Practice polarity thinking. Manage paradox. Whatever you call it, we all need to learn to get comfortable with opposing ideas, pressures and options –and know we don’t get to pick either one or the other. We must embrace the truth of both…A bigger, richer picture – and a more expansive range of options – awaits leaders who shun the over-simplicity of either/or thinking.’ Center for Creative Leadership eNewletter, December 2013.

What’s in store for leadership development in 2014? Why, managing polarities!

*Point of View (POV): Leadership is emergent – not static. From an emergent POV, a leader rises to the occasion depending upon what is going on in the organization. A leader is not necessarily designated by rank.

Organizational communication maven by day. Food, wine and beer buff by night. World traveler. Entrepreneurial spirit. Contact Eroca Gabriel, a former Fortune 100 ‘people and culture’ consultant, at



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