Leader Decision Making: Balancing Company Needs Versus Employee Needs

Leader decision making is an important topic that affects all organizational leaders. Leaders are often faced with unique challenges that test their abilities to manage diverse teams and situations. They are forced to make hard choices involving satisfying the needs of the organization and those of the employees, which can sometimes cause conflict.

For example, supervisors want to treat all their employees equally, but also find ways to identify the employees’ individual strengths as well as optimize them for the organization without showing favoritism. Or perhaps leaders want to increase morale by having an interpersonal relationship with their staff, but worry that getting close will make employees lose respect for them or their position. Supervisors may always want to allow staff to be autonomous in the work they do, but also need to ensure they maintain a level of productivity in order to meet and exceed organizational standards.


Generally when we thinking of conflicting values, the typical thought process is that leaders must decide on one or the other. For example, they must sacrifice interpersonal relationships to maintain compliance or restrict autonomy to guarantee all assignments are completed in a timely manner.

The authors propose that taking this stance is detrimental to organizational development and does not allow for the needs of the company and its employees to be met effectively. These sorts of paradoxes happen within all organizations.

The article suggests that Western philosophy uses an “either-or” stance when dealing with seemingly conflicting stances or paradoxes. Namely, leaders are forced to choose between two seemingly conflicting choices. However, the authors believe that leaders should use more of an Eastern philosophy “both-and”, or yin-yang style, when addressing organizational challenges. They decided to research “paradoxical leader behaviors” (PLB), which refers to how leaders manage situations that appear to be separate but are actually interrelated.



The authors found that there are several aspects that encompass PLB which includes the ability to think about situations holistically and being able to think of and integrate multiple complex issues. By being able to think outside the box to address conflicting issues while factoring in multifaceted outcomes, leaders are able to appease both the organization and its employees.

It is important for managers and leaders in organizations to rethink how they view contradicting work problems that seemingly can’t exist together to see how they are actually connected. If organizations are able to widen their scope and find ways to not only address staff concerns and needs as well as the conflicting functions of the organization, it will result in these organizations being more proficient from not missing out on lost opportunities. Additionally, if leaders are able to think more fluidly about addressing complex and “opposing” situations, then that will only help to increase how quickly an organization can adapt to deal with rapid organizational change.