Di­a­logue – A Char­ac­ter­is­tic of 21st-cen­tury Lead­ers

Trillions - - Content - By Dr. Chance T. Ea­ton

Our species is com­mu­nal in na­ture; we have de­pended on one an­other for sur­vival and sup­port since the be­gin­ning. Though our day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties to­day are dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent than those of our an­ces­tors, our need for one an­other continues to be ex­pressed through our ge­netic code. We see proof of this hu­man bond through our spir­i­tual as­sem­blies, cause-charged ini­tia­tives, fam­ily ori­en­ta­tions and cel­e­bra­tions of his­tory and re­union.

Never is our hu­man bond more no­tice­able than dur­ing times of dis­tress, such as nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, death or dra­matic change. Our need for one an­other is deepseated, and as 21st-cen­tury ad­vances con­tinue to iso­late our species, we need to re­mem­ber that we are fun­da­men­tally com­mu­nal. We are all in this life to­gether, and a bet­ter to­mor­row re­quires a com­mu­ni­ty­based species.

These same truths ex­ist in the work­place; in­di­vid­u­als do bet­ter when they are work­ing in teams that pro­vide trust, recog­ni­tion, care, friend­ship, shared ac­count­abil­ity and de­vel­op­ment. Es­pe­cially dur­ing times of tur­moil and stress, teams bond to­gether and forge ahead. The ve­hi­cle for a strong com­mu­nity al­ways has been – and al­ways will be – di­a­logue. “Di­a­logue” is the shared act of hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion with one an­other to get ex­tra­or­di­nary things done. Nec­es­sary com­po­nents in­clude (1) an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the team’s di­ver­sity, (2) a clar­i­fied end in mind, (3) co­op­er­a­tively lis­ten­ing to un­der­stand one an­other be­fore coura­geously be­ing un­der­stood and (4) a col­lab­o­ra­tive at­ti­tude.

Hands down, the great­est in­hibitor of teams cre­at­ing com­mu­nity is a self-serv­ing leader. Case in point: I re­cently worked with a client who was strug­gling be­cause their leader spent all her en­ergy in win­ning over the CEO and never gave at­ten­tion to her own team. The leader’s pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion was to look “good” and “in­tel­li­gent” in the eyes of the CEO. As a re­sult, all the in­for­ma­tion that came to the leader was fil­tered to her lik­ing and passed up the chain of com­mand. Know­ing that their in­for­ma­tion was al­ways be­ing fil­tered and adapted to fit the needs of their leader, the team mem­bers lost all trust and re­spect for her. Fol­low­ing this to­tal loss in trust came re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity, in­no­va­tion, team­work, com­mit­ment and ac­count­abil­ity.

Over time, the de­crease in en­gage­ment be­came ob­vi­ous, and to deal head-on with the is­sues, the leader called on her team to come to­gether to talk

about the un­der­ly­ing prob­lems (a.k.a. di­a­logue). Dur­ing the di­a­logue, one of the team mem­bers stated that they didn’t feel val­ued by their leader. This was a bold state­ment, and when ev­ery­one looked to the leader for her re­sponse to the em­ployee not feel­ing val­ued, she said: “You shouldn’t feel that way. You are val­ued. In fact, the CEO re­cently told me that I am a rock.”

This left the team con­fused, and one mem­ber com­mented: “YOU are a rock? How about us – the ones who get the work done?” What made this sit­u­a­tion hi­lar­i­ous was that even at a time when the team was shar­ing their frus­tra­tion, the leader couldn’t get out of her own ego. When she said “I am a rock,” she in­ter­preted this as say­ing “This team is a rock.” This to­tal delu­sion was front and cen­ter, and the self­serv­ing leader’s in­abil­ity to have mean­ing­ful di­a­logue led to even greater lev­els of dis­en­gage­ment.

Self-serv­ing lead­ers kill our com­mu­nal na­ture. 21stcen­tury teams need 21st-cen­tury lead­ers, and this re­quires that lead­ers un­der­stand our com­mu­nal na­ture and, more im­por­tant, how to have ba­sic di­a­logue with their com­mu­nity. True di­a­logue is what sep­a­rates good teams from great teams. Di­a­logue is a safe space for re­build­ing trust in one an­other; to have con­struc­tive conflict; to com­mit to a plan for­ward, per­form and be per­son­ally accountable; and for syn­er­gis­tic move­ment to­ward ex­tra­or­di­nary re­sults.

Dur­ing di­a­logue, great lead­ers blend in with the team and don’t drive the dis­cus­sion. They re­al­ize ev­ery­one is in this to­gether and that to­gether we will find so­lu­tions. Space for hon­est di­a­logue is a nec­es­sary prac­tice for 21st-cen­tury teams, and self-serv­ing lead­ers have no place in this space.

To­day’s work­place may be highly com­plex, but the fun­da­men­tals are no dif­fer­ent than they were 200,000 years ago at the birth of our species. As part of our ge­netic code, we look to one an­other for strength, so­lu­tions, ca­ma­raderie, sup­port and re­la­tion­ships. Con­struc­tive space for di­a­logue is a crit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity for 21st-cen­tury teams. Make di­a­logue a nor­mal prac­tice for your team – re­mem­ber our com­mu­nal na­ture, and work as a team to get ex­tra­or­di­nary things done.

Dr. Chance Ea­ton has over a decade’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the field of learn­ing and or­ga­ni­za­tional de­vel­op­ment. Due to his unique ed­u­ca­tional and work ex­pe­ri­ences in fi­nance, psy­chol­ogy, lead­er­ship and man­age­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, noetic sciences and agri­cul­ture, Dr. Ea­ton pro­vides his clients with rel­e­vant busi­ness so­lu­tions grounded in the­ory and re­search. To learn more about Dr. Ea­ton’s ser­vices, visit Hc­sin­ter.com.

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