The Paradox of Leadership (AND not OR)

Written by Laurie Hillis

Hi, I’m Laurie Hillis, I love what I do: the learning, the process, and above all, seeing how my clients grow as leaders.


August 10, 2020

I laughingly and with some amount of truth, say I am “addicted to learning”.  I am exhilarated by stretching my mind with thrilling new learning and sharing that with my clients. It was 2015 when Jerry, one of my new executive coaching clients said:

“Laurie as we partner in a coaching relationship, I’d like to share this report with you about my leadership strengths and growth edges.” 

Now, I’m certified in a lot of tools (remember my opening sentence), so I was not planning to be amazed by what Jerry sent me – his Harrison Work Preferences Report. 

Amazed I was! It is the most comprehensive peak behind the curtain of leadership traits I’d seen.  In the Greatest Strengths and the Traits sections of Jerry’s report there was great clarity on his superpowers. It clarified what had helped him achieve the level of success he had enjoyed to date.

His Engagement & Retention section showed clearly what expectations he had of his role and how well those expectations were being fulfilled. Jerry was more engaged with development than appreciation.  Advancement and recognition also important to him, more so than high remuneration. etc. And, the report revealed his overall fulfillment score with his current position, which was 98% (great place to start our coaching engagement).  He and his  leader had used this report frequently in his performance conversations.

My favourite report is the Paradox Graph. As Dan Harrison, the researcher and author of the Harrison WPI states, “a paradox is two ideas that may appear contradictory but are in fact both true.” (think AND not OR). The PG focuses on 12 pairs of paradoxical traits that measure your strength in each.  In balance, they indicate a leadership strength.  If out-of-balance say strong in one trait and not the other highlights a potential blind spot as shown above.  Jerry, like many leaders I support, was overly Diplomatic (tactful) which meant he communicated in a caring, respectful manner, not a bad thing at all.  However, his low Frank trait (being straightforward, direct  and  to the point) resulted in a perception of Evasive communication.  He had received feedback on this from his team and his leader.  Additionally, this out-of-balance caused an aggressive response under stress, or a fight response, as shown by the red hurricane in the Blunt quadrant above.

The Harrison provides a very insightful and comprehensive leadership view and all from one 25-minute questionnaire completed online.  Other reports that can be included are: a team view of the Paradox Graph or the Engagement & Retention reports; Remote Worker or Remote Leader compatibility reports,  Career Development, Career Options, Job Fit, Emotional Intelligence, and much more.

I’ve been using the Harrison suite of tools since 2016 and have just launched a new blended learning certification program for coaches, learning specialists, human resource professionals and leaders, to enable them to use this powerful inventory in their own practices. I’ll be running another Certification later this year.  If it’s time for you to invest in new practical, cost-effective tools for these times and you are interested in a test drive of the Harrison or would like more info on certification, please contact me today.

Let’s connect:

If you want to know more about Megatrain and how we can work together, drop me a line:

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