This paper, which was written for the Spirituality & Management Conference in Vienna (December 2010), explores paradox as a gateway to spirituality in the training of future leaders. It is precisely the irresolvable duality and the associated dichotomy of paradox that require leaders to tap into deeper levels of understanding.
The paper starts by describing the concept of spirit in organisations and leadership, the vital strength and life force of an organisation. The author points to paradox as a vital source of spirit in an organisation. Organisations that welcome contradictory forces, wrestle with them and find pathways that are not obvious, appeal to the vitality of their co-workers. They call for creativity and commitment. It is in such places that the wisdom and experience of all people are called upon.
The author distinguishes it from dilemma and polarities and sketches the implications of paradoxical thinking for leadership and leadership training. The author illustrates the use of paradox in a major leadership programme. Through training leaders learn to deal with the complexity in and around their organisation and develop an awareness of unity at a deep level, which allows them to lead their organisation from wholeness.