Paradoxical Leadership Development Solutions to Spark Sales Growth

Leadership Development Danita Bye

Paradoxical Leadership Development Solutions to Spark Sales Growth

How might Paradoxical Leadership Development positively impact your sales growth strategies in a post Covid-19 world?

You may be asking, “What on earth is Paradoxical Leadership Development?”

It’s not a term that we hear often, is it? When I Googled “paradox,” I found this definition….

A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement which, when investigated, may prove to be well-founded or true.

“Saving lives and saving livelihoods,” might be one of the biggest paradoxes we’re hearing this last year!

So, how might Paradoxical Leadership benefit your sales teams in a post Covid-19 world?

Identify Leadership Development Paradoxes 

Danita Bye Paradoxical Commandments

In my Leadership Shift ebook, published in 2011, I write about the paradoxes that we deal with in our leadership journey. For example:

  • How do you hold your salespeople accountable without micro-managing them?
  • How do you motivate, and still make the tough, sometimes unpopular, decisions?
  • How do you encourage change, without discarding foundational strategies?

How about today?

I believe that the paradoxical leadership wisdom still applies, perhaps more than ever! Change and disruption are accelerating. Both you and your Millennial salespeople are dealing with paradoxes like these:

  • The need to focus forward, while it feels that uncertainty is blinding the path forward.
  • The need to be creative, while applying the discipline that builds momentum towards reaching audacious goals.
  • The need to capitalize on the opportunities of adversity, while feeling stressed out and tired.
  • The need to remain hopeful, while hearing gloom and doom predictions.

Harness the Leadership Development Benefits from Paradoxes

What are some practical steps that you can take to turn these seemingly negative circumstances into win-win solutions? How might we create breakthrough results for all stakeholders?

Here are some tips on how you can use paradoxical leadership to deal with today’s complex paradoxes…

Leadership Development Paradox #1:  

When the smoke of the present blinds you, embrace a Future-Focused mindset.

The chaos of our current circumstances can act as a dense cloud of smoke. It makes it impossible to see the way forward. If we allow the smoke to penetrate our thinking, we become stuck and unable to create a vision for a better future.

In Millennials Matter, I recommend using a goal-alignment process. During times of turmoil, clarity on personal and professional goals become even more important. One of the steps we follow is to ensure that our sales leader’s life goals are inte­grated, supporting each other.

My e-book, Energize Your Dreams is packed with goal setting and goal-alignment steps. With a future-focused approach, you can guide your team to determining where they want to be in life five to ten years from now in all areas of their life (relationally, physically, intellectually, spiritually, and financially.) If you’d like to check out this resource, send me an email at with Energize Your Dreams in the subject line.

Leadership Development Solution

Embrace a Future-Focused mindset. By asking questions that start with “what,” your vision-casting mindset stimulates your Millennial salesperson’s visionary sales growth plans. For example, you might ask them, “What” might you do to improve the robustness of your pipeline?” To learn more about the power of “what,” check out this video.

Leadership Development Paradox #2:

Cultivate Disciplined Creativity.

Wow, another big paradox! We don’t normally link creativity to discipline, do we? However, “coloring outside the lines” requires lines in the first place. Just as, “thinking outside the box,” requires a box! Creativity, without discipline, will often fizzle out in the planning stage.

In our Millennials Matter survey, some business leaders were concerned with Millennials’ lack of resiliency and ability to bounce back from setbacks.

When we’re struggling to reach our goals, the easy way out is to shift blame or make excuses. Unfortunately, the only result is that we discard our creativity and genius. You need your salespeople to maintain focus on what can be done, versus what can’t be done.

Leadership Development Solution

Ask questions that include the words “might” and “do.” This ignites the Innovation Mindset that drives creative problem-solving. When creativity is tied to the discipline of an Action Mindset, salespeople generate the momentum needed to set the wheels in motion for achieving their dreams. For example, ask, “What “might” you “do” to turn your weak pipelines around?”

Leadership Development Paradox #3:

Capitalize on the Energy of Adversity.

When adversity strikes, fear, anxiety, and increased stress can sap our energy. It’s natural to go into panic mode. Or, get depressed. However, a productive mindset strives to turn big problems into stepping-stones to bigger success.

In Millennials Matter, I write about a word that is part of my heritage and my childhood. Sisu. To explain the meaning of the word, I quoted the work of Emilia Lahti, who’s work­ing toward her PhD on sisu. Emilia says, “At its core sisu is the idea that there is more strength to us than what often meets the eye. Sisu means to exceed yourself, take action against slim odds, and transform barriers into frontiers.” Salespeople with a sisu spirit will take the necessary actions to shape those outcomes.

Leadership Development Solution

When you invite your team to ask questions that include the word “I” you strengthen their Ownership Mindset. By taking ownership of their reality, your Millennials expand their flexibility, effectiveness, and influence. For example, they can ask, “What might “I” do to make a positive impact on this difficult situation?”

Leaders who possess a sisu spirit sign up for seemingly impossible tasks. They step out despite their fears and take action against long odds.” ~ Danita Bye, Millennials Matter, p 141 Click To Tweet
Leadership Development Paradox #4:

Instill Hopeful Realism.

Can you be realistic and hopeful at the same time?  I believe the most optimistic leaders are also the most realistic. They don’t ignore the challenges and roadblocks. However, when faced with uncertainty, chaos, and disruption on all fronts, they never give up.

I often reflect on how my dad managed to “rescue” his brand-new John Deere tractor from a thawing sinkhole. The situation was hopeless. Many would have given up on that tractor.  Not my dad! That day I learned being stuck, literally or figuratively, is no match for one’s mental strength and exter­nal resources. His attitude toward adversity was one of realistic optimism. He had a hopefulness and confidence that got him through many difficult situations. This kind of optimism expects good outcomes even when facing tough circumstances.

Leadership Development Solution

By asking questions that include the words “to make a positive impact,” we think about our future actions. An Optimistic Mindset uncovers the opportunities hiding behind the big rocks on your Millennial sales leader’s path. These opportunities include serving others. For example, suggest they ask, “What might I do “to make a positive impact”?’

What other leadership development paradoxes do you encounter in your work?

Watch this short video on my favorite Paradoxical Commandments for 2021

Paradoxical Leadership Development Inspiration 

In a surprising turn of events, I met the author of a very special poem, (Note: To learn how I met the author, please see this article.)

I asked for permission to publish the poem and created a plaque to give to my clients. I still have it on a shelf in my office.

Dr. Kent Keith’s “Paradoxical Commandments” is an inspiration to me, as a leader. I invite you to read and reflect on the myriad of opportunities they provide. Then, encourage and challenge your salespeople to grow with you as you plan your success journey for the New Year …

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

In today’s uncertain world, we’re all trying to make sense of the disruptive times. You and your salespeople are confronted with paradoxes daily.

You’ve heard, “Saving lives and saving livelihoods,” so many times! So, in order to do that, you have made the daunting shift to managing remote teams.

Keep in mind that this is new territory for many of your salespeople too. They need your guidance. Grab the opportunities to coach them how to overcome the leadership development paradoxes that are keeping them stuck.

Use your Paradoxical Leadership Development Strategies wisely, so that you, your business, and your salespeople will thrive.  Your leadership matters greatly during this time in history.

Leadership Development Lesson: 

Be intentional in coaching your salespeople to look deeper than the seemingly impossible – then they can turn paradoxes into leadership development triumphs.

Leadership Development Question:

What will you do to coach your salespeople to find the paradoxical wisdom in every situation?

Join me for a free virtual coffee meeting
Having challenges keeping your team engaged and focused in a productive direction? We invite you to schedule a free virtual coffee meeting with us. No charge, no obligation. Just a one-on-one 45 minutes to talk through what challenges are happening, receive personal tips, advice, and next steps on how to solve those challenges. To schedule, email me at
  • Mike Shannon
    Posted at h, Reply

    Well written Danita. The points you make are timeless, and I loved the reminder about the poem. If this is not a paradoxical world we live in, I can’t imagine what is!

    I had never heard of sisu or the expression “Saving lives and saving livelihoods” either. Guess I have to pay more attention!

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Danita
      Posted at h, Reply

      Thanks, Mike, for your insights! This will indeed be a great adventurous year!

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