Is Leadership a conversation?

Right off the bat – Leadership must be more than a conversation?
Leadership requires several conversation threads that must be maintained by the leader with the rest of the organization…Finance, R&D, Production, Marketing, Sales, HR and the list goes on.
These conversations take precedence over each other on a brisk, rotational, pace – as the Leader focuses on what is immediately Important, versus what has become urgent (but ceases to remains important).

All conversations have a beginning and an end…however the Leadership conversation is one that is almost infinite…over the lifetime of the Leader within the Organization.
The Leader needs to develop a culture of listening more than talking – as a part of this conversation…this is one of the common traits we have all observed over time – from great Leaders.
The reason the Leader’s conversation must necessarily remain infinite is that the only time the conversation would logically end…would be when the Leader’s vision and mission have been achieved and attained…and then yet another conversation will begin!
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Further to my comments above, I thought I should share this thought
Leaders are constantly engaging in two forms of conversation with the Organization at large:

1. ‘Maintenance’ Conversations – These are the daily, weekly, monthly routine conversations that Leaders engage in and initiate with the various parts of the business – How is the market trending, how are goals and objectives being deployed across the teams, how is the Organization performing, what are the Competitors focusing on, what are the Organization’s Wins and Losses, and the list goes on and on…

2. ‘Breakthrough’ Conversations – These are the Leaders ‘Vision/Mission’ type of Organizational conversation/questioning areas:
What do we need to do to take the Organization to the next level (Quantum leap progress).
How can we better serve our customers and society at large – how can we address bigger and more global issues and concerns through our Products, Technology and Services?
How can we engage newer and more sustainable markets (White space) than what we address today?
What do we need to take costs down and quality up – consistently?
What is keeping our customers awake at night – how can we help them sleep better?
How can we drive towards delivering better dividends to our Stakeholders /Shareholders…and the list goes on and on

Leaders are constantly juggling between the ‘here and now’ realities of running a successful business model with reasonable return on investment…while keeping their eyes and ears open – to the bigger, more jugular Organizational Conversations that need to drive to ensure the organization is ever current, moving forward, and driven towards quantum leap advancement.
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As a comment on the younger generation growing up perhaps on too much of reliance (almost addiction) to social media, and basing most of their communications via the various social media platforms. I WISH I COULD BE MORE LIKE THEM…more open and willing to embrace the technology of today!

I would postulate that perhaps it is the ‘We’ from the previous generation who need to embrace far more aggressively these fantastic opportunities that have spun off from the Web, I/T, Cloud, Social Media and on and on.
All of these new communication medium provide for better, faster, more cost effective and stable communication platforms – more than we have ever had before.

I would never suggest that face to face communication is not critical or invaluable in almost any social and business context – all I would say is to consider how we can add value to our overall communication strategy by combining and interchanging our communication medium for best effect.

To tie it all back to the subject of leadership being a conversation, it is incumbent upon leadership to become savvy and competent with the current technology and to truly become ‘Early Adopters’ of the Technology and Change that is transforming the landscape at such a rapid pace. Teams will have zero tolerance for leadership… if they propose to lead them into the 22nd Century, …using Rotary Telephones, Facsimile Machines, Photocopiers and …snail mail!

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Leadership necessarily needs to more a soliloquy than a conversation…what do I mean you ask?
Here is a brief definition for Soliloquy:
A soliloquy (from Latin solo “to oneself” + loquor “I talk”) is a device often used in drama when a character speaks to himself or herself, relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience.
In Shakespeare’s soliloquies he explores the way someone wrestles with their private thoughts under pressure, often failing to perceive the flaws in their own thinking, and character.

Therefore one way to look at this thread/topic is that Leadership should constantly engage in soliloquy with their teams and peers…this is not to say that the leader needs to strut about on some imaginary stage…muttering in undertone, his next business case or strategic goals and objectives for the next year…not at all.

What I mean is that the leader needs to find a platform…time and space that is consistent and allows for ‘thinking out aloud’ so to speak, with the Organization at large. To honestly share triumphs and concerns, as well as any personal disclosures that he/she believes would allow for better ‘trust’ relationships with the team (Think ‘Johari window’ – used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others).
What do you think…?

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