Academy Webinar

How a paradox mindset can help tackle today's challenges


Harvard Business School asked 600 CEOs “What is keeping you awake at night during this global pandemic?” One respondent summed it up as: “How to most effectively communicate with all employees remotely and show empathy, while trying to save the current business while at the same time trying to shape the future of the company in a 'new normal' environment.”

As leaders, how do you even begin to tackle these three, sometimes competing, objectives? Winmark Academies can not provide you with the solution..... sorry! Instead, we have invited Wendy Smith co-author of an INSEAD paper recently featured in our daily C-Suite intelligence report to introduce the concept of the Paradox mind-set.

Wendy suggested that when we experience tensions and competing demands we often react defensively with a zero-sum, either/or approach. However, this leaves us always feeling like we are missing out on something. Not only are resources allocated with this in mind, our “inner talk” – what we say to ourselves about our choices – will reflect that struggle. This can lead to negative spirals and vicious cycles. 

Wendy will introduce us to the idea of 'paradox mindset' as a framework to accept and learn to live with the tensions associated with competing demands. When we need to address competing demands with limited resources, we have to change the way we think. With a paradox mindset, tensions enable new possibilities as thinking in paradoxical terms pushes us to find integrative solutions to our problems.  The Paradox mindset framework may help you and your team reframe, accept, and find creative ways to cope with tensions.


Wendy Smith

Professor of Management, Co-director - Women's Leadership Initiative

University of Delaware


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