Fostering Paradox Resonance: Exploring leaders’ communication of paradoxes during crisis

Rikke Kristine Nielsen, Joe Cheal, Camille Pradies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The communication from leaders during a time of crisis significantly impacts how the crisis unfolds. Leaders also play a decisive role in fostering either virtuous or vicious dynamics when organizations are torn between competing demands (Smith, 2014). But never has it been more pressing for organizational leaders to be mindful of what and how they communicate than in the COVID-19 crisis. While paradox scholars have predominantly been occupied with understanding leaders’ actions to make a paradox salient (Knight & Paroutis, 2017; Pradies et al., 2020), the paradoxical tensions heightened by COVID-19 such as ‘standing apart together’ have highlighted that we should not solely examine leaders. We need to unpack the relationship between leaders and followers as well as the mechanisms that sustain this relationship. This is particularly the case in a context, where people are expected to cooperate, while being physically dispersed. Paradox theory offers insights as well as sensemaking and decision-making resources for leaders, yet paradox leadership in theory and practice must include paradox followership and followers’ resonance in order to understand and facilitate collective action during times of crises, grand challenges and continuous change in a VUCA-world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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