Polarity Thinking

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The Polarity Thinking program will equip you to deal successfully with polarities — interdependent forces that create tension in complex situations. This certification will show you how supplementing “either/or” thinking with “both/and” thinking helps solve problems that all leaders, teams, and organizational systems face.You will use Polarity Thinking concepts, practices, and tools (including the Polarity Map® and the Polarity Assessment™) and gain experience with managing polarities in a consulting/coaching client relationship. You will also earn a certification in PACT™ (Polarity Approach for Continuity and Transformation) through this program. All leaders, teams, and organization systems are navigating challenges in the process of their growth and development. That process involves the tension between maintaining continuity and change. PACT™ was developed to increase the speed, attainability, and sustainability of the change process that all leaders, teams, and organization systems go through. We believe that leaders can significantly enhance their well-being by using PACT™ and supplementing “or” thinking with “and” thinking.

Registration details for the next cohort of Polarity Thinking will be announced once it is available.

Questions? Contact us at lead2wb@gmu.edu or 703-993-6090.


  • Learn transformative new skills to enhance your career through intensive, hands-on, interactive learning
  • Build your mapping skills using the Polarity Map® in practical experiential exercises
  • Use case study and practical exercises to introduce Polarity Thinking basic principles and create custom Polarity Assessments
  • Participate in one-on-one mentoring post-program to address specific questions and needs
  • Discover a wealth of leadership resources in the Polarity Resource Portal. Course registration includes Consultant-level access for one year to deepen and broaden your learning experiences beyond the course. This resource contains videos, articles/case-studies, a Polarity Map Public Library, and a “My Polarity Maps” section to save and edit your favorite and most frequently used maps. If performance measurement is important to you, you’ll learn how to create custom assessments for up to eight polarities at a time using the Polarity Assessment
  • Earn 27 CCEs (14 Core and 13 Resource) from the International Coaching Federation



Attend and participate fully, completing all reading and assignments

Designed for You

Polarity Thinking will help you navigate any type of complex leadership challenge. If you’re a coach or manager, this course will show you how to lead others to successfully manage complex situations.

Learn More

Learn more from this article. Many challenges are effectively solved with “or” thinking – choosing between either this option or that one. Polarity challenges are different. They’re ongoing tensions that are part of an interdependent pair that require “and” thinking – choosing both this and that. Polarity Thinking will empower you to distinguish solvable “either/or” problems from “both/and” polarities and accelerate your ability to leverage the power of polarities we face every day in organizations. Common polarity tensions include confidence and humility, tasks and relationships, and centralization and decentralization. The research is clear: leaders, teams, and organizations that leverage both thinking competencies well out-perform the ones that do not. Please join us and learn how to avoid getting hooked and stuck in polarities by supplementing “or” thinking with the genius of “and” to improve well-being and resilience for you and your organization.

“Learning and using the principles of polarities can strengthen well-being for leaders, teams, and organizational systems. The many different dimensions of effective leadership – from communication to change management – all include polarities. You can learn one approach through this program and it can apply across the board to whatever decisions you face as a leader. Polarity thinking has versatility and scalability and measurability to it that you can use in any situation.” – Cliff Kayser, Vice President, Coaching Program, Dean, Mastery Program, Polarity Partnerships, and Instructor, Polarity Thinking

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A Few Testimonials from Program Graduates

“Polarity Thinking and Polarity Maps are incredibly valuable for enabling new and powerful conversations that lead to sustainable improvements in our organizations, our societies, our relationships and our lives as individual human beings.” – Chalmers Brothers

“The certification provides a structured process that engages and empowers others, and appeals to those who appreciate data and measurement.” – Joy Goldman

“This was such a valuable course personally and professionally. I found it thought-provoking and inspiring. It was presented in a clear, concise way with lots of varied ways to embody the skills to use immediately.” – Jean Griffis This course provided a unique but global perspective on a unifying approach to view issues, which on the surface appear as problems, as healthy tensions that we cannot ‘solve’ but rather balance focus on ‘and’ thinking.” – Sammy K. 

“As the leader of a non-profit, an executive coach and a facilitator, this class has the potential to change ‘how you’ create solutions. It is rich in content, experiential learning, and resources to explore after the class is over. I’m excited to work on the learning project which will encourage me to do a deeper dive into polarities right away. Lastly, exploring this material live with other class members invites diversity of thought that directly impacts how you introduce, engage in and facilitate a polarity conversation.” – Wendy Moomaw 

“The Polarity Thinking program explores how to think differently about some of the everyday challenges that we grapple with. Adding ‘and’ thinking to our default of ‘or’ thinking expands how we see the world and opens up new avenues to leverage interdependent tensions. After taking the class, I feel more prepared to navigate our world of polarities for sustainable change.” – Dori Ramsey 

“Organizational polarities are a fact of life that we can choose to pretend to ignore or embrace and proactively manage. Cliff’s passion for the topic of polarities and his mastery of organizing the mechanical elements makes learning how to incorporate organizational polarities into your skill set straightforward.” – Paul J. 

“It was one of those classes that changes how you see the world, and how you approach life in general. A great class; not just for leaders and coaches. It will continue to expand and weave itself into my life and how I interact with people, problems, and the world for a long time.” – Erin Dunleavy

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