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Polarity Thinking: Leading During a Pandemic

July 02, 2020

Leading a governmental health department is a complex job during the best of times, but particularly so during a pandemic when leaders must navigate every step carefully. In this episode, our guests introduce and discuss a concept called "polarity thinking," which invites leaders to embrace situations or problems from the opposing perspectives, or "poles."

As public health leaders have to communicate messaging that many people may not want to hear—like wearing a mask in public or urging the public to get a flu shot this fall—embracing "polarity thinking" can strengthen their arguments and earn them more credibility with the people they serve. Learn more about this leadership strategy in the episode.

Programming note: At several points in the interview, the host and guests refer to the word "S/THO," which stands for state/territorial health officials.


  • Abigail Dunne-Moses, Senior Faculty, Center for Creative Leadership
  • Paul Halverson, DrPH, Founding Dean and Professor at Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
    Former Secretary, Arkansas Department of Health