Friday, November 6, 2015

The Paradox Quotient (PQ) of Digital Leadership

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.    -F. Scott Fitzgerald

We are shifting into a hyper-connected, and hyper-competitive digital paradigm. Many say digital is the age of people, the age of empathy, the age of design, and the age of innovation. Unprecedentedly, the physical boundary can no longer limit our thought, our communication, and our life experience. Not only can we travel all over the world more conveniently, but more importantly, we can share knowledge, viewpoint, and wisdom with others all over the world via social platforms effortlessly. The world is becoming smaller due to the advanced technology; the world is perhaps also bigger than you could imagine, because the things you know, compared to what you don't know, is just the tip of an iceberg. More fundamentally, the world is now integrated into the WHOLE, a well-rounded globe as it is, not just two separate hemispheres. And more often than not, you have to see the full spectrum of colors and embrace seemly paradoxical POVs in order to understand things holistically. So besides IQ and EQ, will PQ - Paradoxical Quotient emerge as a critical quality for today’s digital leaders?

The paradox is “a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities:” The paradox is the result of two opposing truths existing side by side, which can be both right. The paradox is also like the two sides of the coin, they are not just opposite, but also complementary, to make it a whole. At a silo, perhaps you only see or understand one side, believe it’s right, and then assume the other side must be wrong. But if you stand at the right angle to see the both sides, you know even they are different, but both hold part of truth in it. Digital now just like the new window, provides a multi-dimensional view to see things and the world differently. Therefore, digital is the age of empathy. Acceptance is the key. Acceptance of others as they are, without prejudice or destructive criticism, acceptance of self as an indefatigable spirit, acceptance that paradoxes are two sides of the same coin and that complexity is the spice of life.

The leader with high PQ is more balanced with emotional excellence: Emotional Brilliance comes because of balance, not extremes of any kind. Yin and yang are two sides to the same coin. We need to accept and appreciate both. The business and the world indeed becomes not only hyperconnected but also over-complex. So how can you strike the right balance when it is difficult to tell the two apart, as when entities change slowly but utterly, or when their boundaries as indistinct. Are the vague objects only vague language? Whether you are vague about identity, or identity with vagueness, there is a multitude of issues that afflict decision-making and action, some of which have spawned whole new fields of inquiry. That pertains to motivation, preference, knowledge, wisdom as well as morality and responsibility. Therefore, the high PQ means to gain understanding in more objective, empathetic, and systematic way.

The leaders with high PQ is more inquisitive and innovative: Creativity is a divergent-convergent, dot-connecting scenario. Interdisciplinarity and paradox are the rare and precious dots to spark the next level of innovation because often creative outcomes may come from recombining ideas in different ways to create the fresh ideas or the new ways to solve the old problems. More systematically, from innovation management perspective, the high “PQ” mindset is better at balancing between orders (standardization) and ‘chaos’ (innovation): Organizations and their people learn through their interactions with the environment: They act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. The process is adaptively rational, it has to strike the balance of ‘keeping the order,’ and sparking the innovation. A leader with high “PQ” is usually more inquisitive as well - The paradox of leadership is about the balance of asking and answering; leading at the front and leading from the behind, or overall speaking, leadership, and followership. At today’s business with information overloading and knowledge abundance, framing the right questions is often more crucial to direct organizations toward the right directions.

PQ is the multidimensional intelligence, without broad knowledge, profound insight, and ultimate wisdom, you can not understand both sides of coin cohesively; PQ is also a high level of EQ because emotional excellence can only be achieved via balancing of confidence and humbleness; logic and intuition, orders and chaos. Digital leaders with high PQ can orchestrate and harmonize via their unique vision and distinctive abilities to lead differently.


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