EXECUTIVE PRESENCE: Importance of paradoxes in leadership styles

A paradox is a noun. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. a self-contradictory and false proposition. any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.

Leaders face a multitude of strategic paradoxes—contradictory pressures that are too often viewed as “either/or” choices. … Leaders need to become comfortable with multiple truths and inconsistency. They need to assume that resources are ample rather than scarce. (HBR)

The multiple paradoxes are beyond situational -these paradoxes also exist in leadership styles. When the paradoxes remain unacknowledged leadership styles become unidimensional, rigid, and eventually have business repercussions.

Here are some common paradoxes as leadership style can have:

1. Unassertive Hero/Heroine

2. Quiet Presence

3. Globally Local

4. Visionary Executer

5. Political Empath

6. Traditional Futurist

Paradoxes are a part of the system and can’t be avoided. Identifying with a rigid style as a leader holds you back from adaptability and being situational. Fluidity and flexibility to accept these paradoxes within ourselves and makes us powerful, impactful & influential.

Ask yourself: What are the paradoxes that you see in yourself as a leader? How do you acknowledge the polarised aspects of your personality in your leadership style? How does it keep you relevant in diverse company?

About Devika Das:

Devika coaches executives on power, influence, impact & executive presence.


1.NICHE AS A COACH: A coach and trainer specializing in psychodynamic transformations for leaders. She is an expert in enhancing self and interpersonal awareness to develop an impactful global executive presence in leaders worldwide.

2.TOP BUSINESS SCHOOL: A graduate of INSEAD’s Masters in Consulting and Coaching for Change (EMCCC). Research thesis at INSEAD was on the psychodynamic study of ‘Global Executive Presence’ which included developing a coaching tool to enhance sustained and evolving presence in leaders.

3. GLOBAL EXPERIENCE: Has twenty-plus years of global experience – lived and worked in India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia, China, and Hong Kong. Nearly 20 years of coaching and training experience, 10 of which were in Mainland China.

4. AUTHOR: She is the author of the Reflective Edge Series for senior executives which helps leaders enhance self-awareness for impact, influence, presence, and power. Is currently working on a book on executive presence for women leaders.

5.COACH FOR A TOP BUSINESS SCHOOL: Devika continues her engagement with INSEAD as a learning coach for their executive program on gender diversity and inclusion.

6. HAS A NERDY MEMBERSHIP: A member of the International Society for Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.

7.WRITES: Adds insight on leadership for LinkedIn and INSEAD Business School. Contributes on Medium and Thrive Global.

8.HUMAN/MOTHER/WRITER ON A JOURNEY: loves spending time with her daughters, practicing mindfulness, writing, exercising, and connecting with people.

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