Conversational Leadership takes root when leaders see their organizations as dynamic webs of conversation and consider conversation as a core process for effecting positive systemic change.
Taking a strategic approach to this core process can not only grow intellectual and social capital but also provide a collaborative advantage in our increasingly networked world.
Credit: Thomas Hurley & Juanita Brown
In our increasingly complex, fast-paced, ambiguous world, no single individual can know everything or be smart enough alone to address the challenges that face us.
The world has changed, today managers often know less about an issue than their staff. Managers are too far away from the coal-face, and the world is changing too rapidly for them to keep up.
The best way to make sense of an issue or challenge and ultimately make better decisions or craft a strategy is to bring a diversity of people together in open conversation, in dialogue – to make collective sense of the situation. Something known as collective sensemaking.
To do this, we need strong conversational leaders – conversational architects.
Conversational architects identify the powerful, often strategic conversations that need to take place in the organization; they determine the best questions to trigger them and design the processes to convene and host them.
Managers and the natural leaders in an organization are in the best position to take on the role of conversational architect to hold effective strategic conversations though mostly they lack the knowledge and skills to do this.
This is where Knowledge Managers have a huge opportunity to have a strategic impact on the organization. They are the natural conversational leaders and architects of any organization.
The Knowledge Café
One of the best conversational methods for addressing complex issues and challenges is the Knowledge Café.
Strategic conversations and other powerful conversations are usually driven by powerful questions. They are best convened where there are many stakeholders and opinions, and there are no right or wrong answers. Some examples:
- To achieve a breakthrough in a tough dilemma or problem
- To deal with the interaction between people or departments, focusing on attitude or behavior
- To explore or brainstorm issues, challenges, opportunities, possibilities or risks
- Book: Strategic Conversations by J.-C. Spender and Bruce Strong
- Book: Moments of Impact by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Soloman
[Status: work in progress]
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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