The Paradox of Unity

Jul 3, 2018Blog

I love paradoxes.  They make me think about things in a different way.  And I LOVE to think about things from other perspectives.  It’s how we build understanding and grow.

So I try to think sometimes in terms of what seems to contradict itself, but is actually true.  As a result, I get some pretty cool ideas.  And the resulting paradoxes are really cool to think about in regards to our leadership.

One of my favorite paradoxes is the PARADOX OF UNITY.  It goes like this:

Creating unity always leads to division.

I know, it makes your head hurt.  How is that even possible?  Let me explain.

Unity is created through SHARED VALUES. In order to share values, we must communicate clearly what those values are.  As soon as you communicate those values, you do two things:  UNIFY with those who share the SAME values, and DIVIDE from those who DO NOT share those values.  So at the same time you create unity with one group of people, you are creating division with another.

So does this mean division is inevitable?  To an extent, yes.  But here’s the good news: you don’t have to share every value to create unity.  You just need to share the most important values.  This is how unity is created in organizations – by emphasizing the right values consistently.  Another word for this is PRIORITIES.  These are the most important values in any organization.

That’s why it is so important to PRIORITIZE what you stand for.  Your team needs to know exactly what you believe is important so they can know what’s EXPECTED of them.  This also makes it really easy to know who isn’t bought in to your vision.  And that is just as important as creating unity.  So don’t think of it as causing division.  Think of it as causing the right kind of division.

Question of the day:  Are you clearly and consistently communicating your values to the organization?



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