Community//

James B. Pepper Rutland, MMR, on How to Deal with Competing Business Strategies

The truth about managing a business is that it’s subject to change on a dime. Whether it’s hardening competition, changing industry practices or unforeseen growth, the day to day of running an enterprise is as fickle as life itself. So why is it that most leaders continue doing the same thing throughout their careers: focusing […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

The truth about managing a business is that it’s subject to change on a dime. Whether it’s hardening competition, changing industry practices or unforeseen growth, the day to day of running an enterprise is as fickle as life itself. So why is it that most leaders continue doing the same thing throughout their careers: focusing on one opportunity at a time and choosing between interests despite better judgment? Well, for one, consistency is comforting; and if there’s anything in which natural leaders pride themselves, it is the ability to be in control at all times. However, that is not always the best choice. 

In the Harvard Business Review’s May issue, business leaders and experts explain why it’s important to break away from traditional leadership and to embrace what the publication has dubbed “paradoxical leadership.” The argument behind the latter suggests that there are virtues to inconsistency, a certain adaptability that is necessary for growth and development, both personally for the company. Instead of imagining a world in which two situations would not be in opposition, paradoxical leadership calls for serious pragmatism and understanding that both truths can and do exist alongside the other, and sound strategy calls for addressing them together. 

The most common of these scenarios is the pull between long and short term goals. A question for those in leadership is how to be innovative, to take risks while also being aware of current practices and the need for stability for team members. The choice is not by any means simple, and using an example of tech giant IBM, the paradox becomes especially salient. 

In the latter part of the last century, with the growth of the internet, IBM was faced with the challenge of following and eventually leading this new technology, or focusing on the client server markets for which it had become known. Because the two ideas called for drastically different approaches, there was conflict of attention and a fight for the identity of the company, which management was called to address. In the end, however, the company was able to prioritize both and effectively reinvented itself while remaining relevant, receiving kudos and admiration from fellow industry leaders.
IBM is just one example of many. We’ve all been affected by new systems, changing orders, recession, and even a new workforce. The key to being successful despite seemingly incongruent situations is to “embrace dynamism” and change and to believe that resources are abundant. The article makes clear that the “either/or” of traditional leadership will make it much harder to navigate the bumpy road of business. Instead, a “both/and” mentality and confidence in navigating multiple things at once will bring about desired outcomes and make for a stronger, more prepared company.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Group of people at a conference table
    Community//

    5 Ways Business Leaders Can Develop a Stronger Company

    by Jared Atchison
    Community//

    Goodbye Transactional Leader. Hello, Transformational.

    by Joshua Miller
    leadership lie
    Community//

    “Kindness Equals Weakness” is a Leadership Lie

    by Alyson Van Hooser

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.