What It Takes to Be a Paradox Navigator

Are you a Paradox Navigator? Do you know what that is?

Dave Ulrich, and his son Michael, coined the term to describe one of the key competencies of human resources. In the 7th iteration of the HR competency study (HRCS), “the ability to navigate the many embedded operational tensions” of an organization emerged as a critical competency, joining eight others discovered over the 30 years of the survey.

In this DisruptHR presentation, Ravi Narine , director HR & organizational development at Alberta Pension, describes what it means to navigate paradoxes: “To be a paradox navigator, you have to maintain a high level vision of yourself and rise above issues.”

That’s the high altitude look that Narine starts with, bringing it down to ground level explaining the types of skills it takes to be successful at navigating the treacherous waters among competing interests, divergent views, the long term vs. short term and others. “Avoid agreeing all the time,” Narine says. Being “people people, we are supposed to agree all the time and make everybody feel comfortable,” he says. But a Paradox Navigator has to be able to disagree and to say no, as long as it’s “in a purposeful way.”

As he describes the traits and talents required of a Paradox Navigator, you’ll recognize some — the fortunate of you will recognize many — of them that you exercise regularly. At the end of Narine’s 5 minutes you’ll understand why being a paradox navigator is such a critical competency for today’s HR leaders.

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