Every conversation could use a preamble

Work gets done in conversations. Specifically, conversations where ideas get discussed and actions get taken. I’ve observed that there are times at work when relating to the person who has hierarchical authority as “the boss” doesn’t serve the conversation. There are times when we want to get rid of the “authority hangover”. In those moments, we need to be able to switch to relating to each other as peers in order to fully engage in the topic of discussion. There’s an opportunity for both parties in a conversation to clarify up front the purpose of the conversation they’re about to have and whether or not there is a role purpose for hierarchical authority in that dialogue. This is why every conversation could use a preamble. Read On

The Authority Hangover

Hierarchical authority is a hold-over from post-war industrialization, an artifact from a world that no longer exists. It has specific and limited utility in organizations today. As a managerial construct, hierarchal authority allows us to move information and knowledge. It allows us to manage processes, accountabilities, and decision-making responsibilities. It may even be necessary to effectively coordinate actions and transactions. But when it comes to having spontaneous and direct conversations, the authority granted by hierarchical position hinders the kind of influence we would hope to have–as leaders and with leaders.

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Influence: Don’t Miss the Opportunity

As leaders, we often overlook our greatest opportunities to influence that exist in the conversations right in front of us every day. We miss chances to take the lead in relationships. We miss opportunities to initiate discussions in which we could coach, teach, or resolve complexity. Consequently, we are kept awake at night by what results from missing those opportunities to influence the future. Often we operate as if those unintended and unanticipated consequences do not exist.

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Why isn’t your organization learning faster?

Why can’t your organization learn and adapt quickly to what’s happening? You already have a shared vision and a common purpose. You’ve hired knowledgeable people. People who excel at solving problems inside their area of expertise. People who know what they don’t know in their field–and then go out and acquire that missing knowledge.

So why do your teams still get confounded about how to respond to chaotic or ambiguous circumstances? What stops us from moving forward together? Read On

What Makes an Open Door Policy Work?

Why do senior executives tell me they’re lying awake at night wondering why people aren’t walking in their “open door”? Obviously, they’re not interpreting this as good news. They’re responding to an intuition that they’re missing something critical or a sense that their relationships “should” be better. These senior executives tell me they would love it if people would challenge them. They tell me they know the value of this kind of conversation. But no one is darkening their door. And they’re stymied as to why. What’s missing to transform their open door policy into a practice that will accomplish their noble intention? Read On