Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus
Managing in a World of Paradox
by James R. Lucas
November 2005, 224pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98592-9
$46, £35, 40€, A63
eBook Available: 978-0-313-04941-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Twenty keys to solving problems, making decisions, and taking action when you’re faced with conflicting goals and priorities.

Today’s managers and leaders are faced with paralyzing challenges. There is never enough time or resources to get everything accomplished, and every organization is constantly being pulled in multiple directions. Every decision has consequences—some immediate, some longer-term. Add to these challenges the politics of corporate culture, where issues of power, influence, and authority are constantly in play. Whether you are a CEO, business owner, department head, team leader, or in any other managerial position, you need to learn how to navigate these treacherous shoals—to be flexible and decisive, supportive and commanding, tactical and strategic. In this fascinating analysis of business life, James Lucas identifies over a dozen fundamental paradoxes of leadership and demonstrates how the greatest leaders embrace, rather than avoid, them. From exercise authority and share power to encourage cooperation and encourage conflict, Lucas shows readers how to pursue seemingly incompatible goals simultaneously and thrive in a world of ambiguity. Whether you are formally in charge or find yourself in a position of de facto influence, this book will open your mind to new ways of solving problems, overcoming inertia, and turning uncertainty into opportunity. For more information and resources, please visit

Today’s leaders are faced with paralyzing challenges. There is never enough of anything to get everything accomplished. Every decision has consequences—some immediate, some longer-term, all serious. Every organization is constantly being pulled in multiple directions, and our frustration can swell as we see value in all of them. One authority instructs us to take charge, while another tells us to empower our employees. We’re instructed to challenge our people with high expectations, and to allow for human error; to tightly align our organizations, and to open them organizations up to all possibilities. We face one crippling dilemma after another. Are we going to do A or B? The answer is yes, we’re going to do it all. We’re going to have high expectations and high tolerance; strong leadership that takes a back seat; crisp alignment with anarchic creativity. Whether you are a CEO, division or department head, team leader, or entrepreneur, you’re going to learn how to navigate these treacherous shoals—to be flexible and decisive, supportive and commanding, tactical and strategic. For more information and resources, please visit

Great leaders understand that leadership is a both/and, not an either/or game. In this groundbreaking book, James Lucas demonstrates how to pursue seemingly incompatible goals and thrive in a world of ambiguity. You’ll see that, while a paradox seems to require irreconcilable actions, it is only an apparent contradiction. The value comes from seeing through the illusion. You will explore twenty fundamental paradoxes of leadership, culture, talent management, and strategy. You’ll learn how to embrace, rather than avoid, these unavoidable paradoxes, examine both sides find practical techniques for avoiding common pitfalls, and ultimately discover creative solutions that reconcile apparently conflicting priorities. Whether you are formally in charge or find yourself in a position of de facto influence anywhere in your organization, this book will open your mind to new ways of thinking and allow you to turn uncertainty into opportunity. You’ve always sensed that these paradoxes were there. With this book, you’ll be able to bring them into the light and make them work for you.


"Consultant Lucas notes that paradox is a constant in the world of business. Strong leaders should also be virtually invisible. Departments should be structured and efficient but also flexible and creative. However, he also points out that paradox provides only an apparent contradiction, and that through practice and discernment business leaders can embrace paradox as a powerful and practical method of influencing and progressing. He gives twenty power paradoxes to explore and experience, including paradoxes in leadership, culture, talent and strategy, such as spreading both optimism and the ugly truth, focusing on and ignoring results, creating and expecting passion, increasing pressure and reducing stress, encouraging both cooperation and conflict, and moving faster while taking more time. He concludes with advice on applying the principles to create lasting impact and widespread wealth."—Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2006

"We all get lots of advice about how to live our lives, how to raise our children and how to run our businesses. Often, this advice covers a broad spectrum. Fools rush in......He who hesitates is lost......etc. Ironically, it is almost always true, but not always relevant. Jim does an excellent job of presenting these contrasting views in a broad way of circumstances and helps one decide which end of the spectrum is appropriate in one's particular circumstance."—Edward T. Reilly, President & CEO, American Management Association

"This is one of the best business books I've read in years! Wisdom leaps off nearly every page. I can't imagine anyone in the world of business not benefiting tremendously from its wealth of practical insights. Jim Lucas deeply understands the paradoxical balancing act that every great leader has to perform, and he clearly shows how, used appropriately, paradox is power. Open this book and meet a great teacher you'll be very glad to know!"—Tom Morris, author, True Success, If Aristotle Ran General Motors, and The Art of Achievement

"Straightforward, direct and pragmatic-Lucas' latest book takes the mystery out of the everyday either/or challenges leaders face. It's both/and! His clear and insightful prose yields genuinely useful tools to successfully navigate these inherent contradictions."—Michael V. Harper, Consultant and Co-author, Hope Is Not a Method: What Business Leaders Can Learn from America's Army

"Jim's suggestion that leadership greatness is harnessed in understanding and managing paradoxes is very compelling. The concept is simple but not simplistic. This book arms a business leader with information on how to use the power of paradoxes and provides an approach to successfully applying the paradox principle in our organizations. I believe that developing a competency in managing paradoxes and creating a thinking organization is a leadership imperative. My leadership team and I plan to leverage these principles to access the power of paradoxes and develop a passionate and engaged thinking organization."—Glenn Hartman, Director of Customer Operations, Procter & Gamble, North America

"Jim Lucas has captured the key leadership issues in Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus. Too often leadership books are overly simplified, telling readers that if they only exhibit this one behavior, or perform this one action, then they will be great leaders. The reality is that leadership is based on simple principles, but it is a much more complex subject. . .This book treats leadership the way it deserves to be treated--thoughtfully, proactively, and with detail appropriate for the complexity of the issue.... I certainly plan to keep this book within arm's reach."—Dave Hager, Chief Operating Office, Kerr-McGee Corporation

"This is a must-read book for business leaders at any level. Whether you wish to simply improve the quality of your business operations or move your organization to a world-class level, managing through the power of paradox is both fundamental and provocative. Lucas shows us how effective organizations behave in flexible yet sometimes contradictory ways, and he provides leaders with eight simple steps to improve business decisions and master the paradox principle."—Robert Barrett, President & CEO, InCharge Institute of America

"Jim Lucas gets it just right in this provocative book. You can't lead what you don't understand, and the only way to surmount the challenges of today's organizations is to master paradox-learning to lead with the heart and the head, in the present and the future. Lucas shows how in this readable and practical guide."—Lee G. Bolman, Ph.D., Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership, Bloch School of Business and Public Administration, University of Missouri-Kansas City, co-author, Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership and Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit

"This is a remarkable book. It is relevant and rigorous, yet highly readable. Full of perceptive insights. It should be read by all concerned with the future of management, leadership, and organizational performance."—Bruce Lloyd, Ph.D., Professor of Strategic Management, London South Bank University

"The topic of thought leadership in a world of paradoxes is complex. Understanding and dealing with this complexity is critical for leaders to unleash the power of both. Jim Lucas takes on this topic in a very practical manner using twenty examples based around four areas: Leadership, Culture, Talent, and Strategy. Without being prescriptive, the book helps leaders think about a diverse range of questions from What does it mean to be customer centric? to Why does innovation and change need to be ubiquitous? Readers will come away with a much deeper understanding of how to balance their brains, hearts, and courage."—Andrew K. Tipping, Vice President, Organization and Change, Booz Allen Hamilton

"Thought provoking. The idea of thinking of business issues as a paradox is very instructive . . . Learning to think in a way that gets to truth is the important issue here. And that's pure gold for the CEO or anyone who's in charge. We pay consultants millions of dollars to get at the truth. Learning to think in terms of the paradox and ask questions that flow out of that thinking makes getting at the truth much more likely . . .In a nutshell, I'm reading this book four years later than I would have liked. I needed it before I retired. It would have been a great help."—Wes Cantrell, retired Chairman, President & CEO, Lanier Worldwide, Inc.

"As always, Lucas inspires great leadership. He challenges leaders to continuously reinvent their leadership capabilities, yet at the same time reminds them to continue doing what has been successful in the past. Another leadership paradox from one of the great minds in leadership training!"—Peter A. Luongo, Executive Director, The Center for Leadership and Executive Development, University of Dayton School of Business

"Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus continues in the tradition of Balance of Power and Fatal Illusions in helping to develop the people that are the heart and soul of any organization. Jim Lucas helps each of us to be a better person-a balance of body, mind, spirit, and work-which, in turn, naturally makes us better managers, leaders, citizens, spouses, and parents. The world of paradox doesn't end at the office parking lot. The principles in this book challenge each of us to be more effective in our daily lives . . . indeed, the ultimate paradox."—James DeStefano, President & CEO, Occupations, Inc.

"Jim Lucas has put his finger squarely on the key to the future of management in the rapidly increasing multitude of paradoxes one faces in this quickly changing world. The management truisms of the past decades no longer hold with any certainty. Virtually everything seems constantly up for grabs. Most valuable is Jim's ability to deal with the four primary realms of paradoxes in today's organizations: leadership, people's talents, the organization's culture, and its overall strategy. Interestingly, he wraps up the book by applying the paradox principle to creating wealth. If that doesn't grab the reader, probably nothing will."—Gordon Shea, Management Consultant, Co-author, New Corporate Cultures That Motivate

"As always, Jim Lucas sends an appropriate and timely message. He has again made the complex, comprehensible."—Tobias W. Buck, CEO & Chairman of the Board, Paragon Medical Corporation

"I always enjoy and learn from Jim's work! However, as a senior manager, Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus will have a permanent place on my bookshelf next to William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Broaden the Vision will be my management and leadership bible!"—Bruce Miller, Director, Training Operations, New York State Office of Children & Family Services

"One of the greatest paradoxes for today's leadership is that success often depends less on taking charge and exercising management power than on the ability to listen, to inspire, and to build a true partnership with the people who are ready to make a difference . . . Lucas has created an excellent framework for the thought process required to . . .start mastering high performance. Understanding paradoxes and embracing their complexity will go a long way to achieve progress and prosperity for any organization."—Adolf Haasen, Managing Partner, A&R Associates, Ltd., Co-author, New Corporate Cultures That Motivate

"Author Jim Lucas provides insight on the value of balancing opposing approaches, ideas, and strategies for leaders to create high-performance results. When weighing choices and business decisions, Lucas says don't choose either/or-think AND."—Annell R. Bay, Vice President Exploration Americas, Shell Exploration & Production Company

"When you read Jim Lucas' books, it's obvious that he has actually been in the corporate trenches, as he writes about management reality and not about management theory. Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus explores the challenges of successfully executing against the day-to-day opportunities typically encountered in large organizations while juxtaposing the often contrary perspectives of planning, communicating and embracing a visionary view that is required to elevate your company to the next level."—Deborah McIntyre, Vice President, Card Services, Wells Fargo Bank

"There are no simple answers to the challenge of managing organizations. Broaden the Vision and Narrow the Focus provides an excellent roadmap for leaders in all sectors--public, private, and non-profit--as they chart a path for their organizations through the complexity and paradoxes of management in the 21st century. In the challenging decade ahead, as Lucas makes clear, leaders must deal effectively with the conflicting demands of leadership, culture, talent, and strategy in order to accomplish the mission of the organization."—Mark A. Abramson, Executive Director, The IBM Center for The Business of Government
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