Navigating Interpersonal Tensions: Enhancing Team Performance with the Paradox Mindset



To achieve successful performance and generate creative solutions, teams must reconcile inconsistent perspectives and integrate competing task demands. In this talk, I will discuss recent findings regarding the benefits of cultivating a paradox mindset in teams. Contributing to research on the microfoundations of organizational paradox, we have found that adopting a paradox mindset promotes conflict resolution, creativity, and performance. Specifically, two laboratory studies (N = 950) demonstrated that an induced collective paradox mindset improves team creativity when team members are epistemically motivated. Teams with the paradox mindset and high epistemic motivation collectively work through their tensions and elaborate on their diverse ideas, resulting in increased creativity. Additionally, two longitudinal studies involving diverse teams (n = 133), which engaged intensively in various tasks for nine weeks and concluded with a hackathon, suggest that team members with a paradox mindset help buffer the negative impact of relationship conflict on team potency and performance. These team members accept and embrace contradictory perspectives, acquiring and sharing more information from conflicting parties to gain a fuller understanding of the issues. By shedding light on the underlying processes and boundary conditions that enable teams to harness task and team tensions, this research provides insights into when and why embracing a paradox mindset advances teams.