The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership: Embracing the Conflicting Demands of Today’s Workplace by Tim Elmore. HarperCollins Leadership. 240 pages. 2021
This book looks at eight surprising paradoxes that effective, or uncommon, leaders must practice as they lead. Most of these paradoxes are about our emotional intelligence, not our cognitive intelligence. The author tells us that the good news is that while IQ doesn’t change much over our lifetime, EQ can be developed.
The author, who served alongside worked with John Maxwell for twenty years, tells us that leading in the twenty-first century is more complex than it was in past centuries.
Each chapter of the book includes strategies to practice the paradox, a summary of the paradox, keys to navigating the paradox, and helpful questions about the paradox. A final chapter discusses a new kind of leader.
Here are the eight paradoxes along with a few quotes about each one that I found to be helpful:
PARADOX 1 Uncommon Leaders Balance Both Confidence and Humility
- Uncommon leaders possess inspiring confidence yet express it with palpable humility.
- When humility is present, trust deepens among team members.
PARADOX 2 Uncommon Leaders Leverage Both Their Vision and Their Blind Spots
- Team members need their leader to not only possess a vision, but to communicate it clearly so they can implement it.
- Failure is only a bad thing when we fail to learn from our mistakes.
- A lifelong learning posture is our only hope to thrive in the future.
PARADOX 3 Uncommon Leaders Embrace Both Visibility and Invisibility
- In the beginning of any mission, most people need a visible leader, demonstrating what to do and clarifying the goal. Over time, however, those people need the leader to step aside to let them realize their potential. Ownership must be transferred.
- Visible leadership deepens your credibility in the minds of your people.
- Our world is crying out for leaders who practice what they preach.
PARADOX 4 Uncommon Leaders Are Both Stubborn and Open-Minded
- We must stop selling product features to customers and focus on outcomes.
PARADOX 5 Uncommon Leaders Are Both Deeply Personal and Inherently Collective
- Social intelligence is developed when we actively listen without interrupting.
- Leaders must never forget that people need both the collective and the personal.
PARADOX 6 Uncommon Leaders Are Both Teachers and Learners
- In our day of unceasing change, leaders are forced to be teachers, and organizations are forced to adapt.
PARADOX 7 Uncommon Leaders Model Both High Standards and Gracious Forgiveness
- People need leaders to call out the uncommon strengths that lie inside them. Without this push, most succumb to a gravitational pull toward average.
- Our greatest growth and best chance to stand out lie in the areas of our natural strengths.
PARADOX 8 Uncommon Leaders Are Both Timely and Timeless
- Wise leaders utilize vision that can see both backward and forward.
- Drafters are people who are ahead of you and inspire you to get better.
Throughout the book, the author illustrates each paradox with stories about people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Truett Cathy, Harriet Tubman, Bob Iger, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, and others. He tells us that each of them represents a new kind of leader.