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Leadership dialogue – part 1

A leaders language and ability to engage in effective dialogue is key in the sustainability of any business or organisation in the ever changing landscape of the 21st century.

Research shows that leadership failure is a key driver of organisational failure. Poor employee engagement, ineffective communication and outdated leadership styles are some of the key reasons leaders fail.

Leaders are often distanced from employees, other business units and the external environment. Consequently they very often lack important internal and external connectivity. A breakdown in this regard can result in isolated leaders taking critical decisions without key information, possibly resulting in a negative impact on the organisation.

According to Prewitt (2004) current leadership theories and business models, built around assumptions about winners and losers, power and control, are decades out of date. Sustainability is more directly linked to an organisations ability to increase knowledge assets and motivate employees to want to contribute.

Organisations will not thrive amidst increasing change and complexity if people within them continue to have the same conversations. If leaders wish to build organisations where people choose accountability for themselves and the business, conversations and engagement must change.

What is dialogue?

Dialogue as a form of engagement is considered key in the 21st century leaders toolbox. It is a sharing and means of connection by which people within organisations can learn more about themselves, each other and the challenges faced by their leaders. This method of connection allows for a renewed sense of purpose and often it is this sense of connection that becomes the glue keeping an organisation and teams together during challenging times.

Kohlrieser refers to dialogue as as an exchange in which people think together and discover something new. It involves enquiring and sharing doubt, as opposed to debating. Dialogue is an important means of developing a culture of collaboration. Creative dialogue can further be used to search for new ideas, ultimately leading to innovation. Perhaps most importantly, dialogue is key to resolving differences and conflict.

Your business or team?

The above is a brief “glance” at dialogue and its role in organisations. We will cover the topic more deeply over the next few weeks. My invitation, until then, is for you to consider how often you have encountered dialogue in your team, your business, the organisation you work for?

Out of a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being poor and 5 being excellent) where would you rate meaningful communication in your current business environment? Just think about it.

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