Bringing the practices of mindfulness and dialogue to leadership conversations

Changing minds

Posts Tagged ‘Dialogue’

Changing minds

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Early last week, a friend sent an email: Am watching Brexit debate. Unedifying.

In response to this succinct appraisal of the parliamentary process, I rolled my eyes. While I should care more about such matters, I seriously question whether our current political system enables people to talk about our place in the world in a way that reflects the complexity of that world. And so I disengage.

As politicians trade opinions, (more…)

Transforming conversations

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In seeking to better explain the relevance of my dialogue-related work, I’ve been stimulated by a ‘Capability Accelerator’ programme offered by the International Futures Forum. The programme outlines practice-based frameworks for Transformative Innovation (Graham Leicester) and offers action-learning support to participants, who engage in a project over nine months. (more…)

Conversation operating systems

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Recently, I’ve been exploring how to better explain the relevance of my dialogue-related work, in which I draw attention to the relationship between the shape and quality of conversations and what happens next. Crucially, different ‘forms’ of conversation are more useful for some purposes than others. Therefore, it pays to understand how best to create the conditions for bringing about a particular outcome. (more…)

Beyond words

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Back in the day, I was a Director of Finance in the NHS. Long before I encountered dialogue practices, my deputy and I were preparing for an important meeting that she’d called. We had to gain support from a local peer group for a crucial development. We were expecting opposition. My colleague was very clear and animated about how to push our agenda through. (more…)

The grittiness of dialogue

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I recently found a new way to describe the experience of dialogue, seeking to convey a felt-sense of this kind of conversation. It came about because I was asked to contribute to a series of 90-minute leadership development sessions. I don’t often accept such invitations, preferring to host practice-based learning over time. However, sometimes it’s helpful to test my assumptions – my ‘ladder of inference’ – about the lasting impact of short inputs, and to stretch my prejudices about the value of one-off interventions.

In designing the session, I was keen to avoid two potholes:

• too much ‘presenting’ (advocacy) in a context of dialogue (balancing advocacy and inquiry); and
• giving an impression that dialogue is a form of sublime, zen-like conversation. (more…)

Stories we tell ourselves

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What is your story in this moment? How is it influencing what you believe to be possible?

On her CD ‘Simple Gifts’, my friend and mentor Judy Ringer talks about ‘good reality’ and ‘bad reality’, describing how the same circumstances can look very different after a break and/or some rest. In an era in which we understand ‘spin’ and the unreality of ‘reality TV’, it’s often pertinent to examine things we regard to be ‘fact’ and ask: what is really happening here? (more…)

Beyond belief

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My two previous posts focused on practices that support skilful advocacy and articulating a point of view, in a way that acknowledges that others may see things differently. In dialogue, advocacy is balanced by inquiry, which invites more participation, awareness and potential in a conversation. This month, I am focusing on one of two practices that support skilful inquiry, namely suspending judgement. Reflecting on the impact of making judgements on our leadership conversations offers a starting place to understand the importance of this practice. (more…)

Voice recognition

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Writing about ‘authentic voice’ for my April post prompted me to deepen my inquiry into the other dialogue practices outlined by Garrett, Isaacs and others*: respecting, suspending judgment, and listening. Together, the four practices establish core conditions for ‘roomier’ and more generative conversations.

This month, I am focusing on the practice of respecting, which is especially important when we are faced with difference. In Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, William Isaacs describes dialogue as:

‘taking the energy of our differences and channelling it toward something that has never been created before’ (more…)

Giving talk a rest!?

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As I begin to write this blog post, there two strong influences on my thinking. Firstly, I was asked by my friend and associate, Julie Drybrough, to write a guest post for her blog with a theme of ‘talking well’. My response was to write mostly about listening well, which I believe to be a precondition for talking well.

Around the same time, I read a prize-winning essay by my friend and fellow coach Brigid Russell, in which she explores how coaching can feel like therapy for a busy leader. (more…)

Practice-based learning

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Congratulations to Andy Murray on winning his first ‘Grand Slam’ title. I recall when, as an ungainly teenager in 2005, he took Wimbledon by storm. His raw talent was obvious, but his conditioning and discipline were not sufficient for the task in hand. Over the years, I have developed increasing respect for his commitment to enhancing his fitness, his versatility, and, most recently, his mental and emotional resilience. It has taken him 7 years of dedication, of examining his game, and of doing ‘whatever it takes’, to fully inhabit his potential. He is a model for practice-based learning. (more…)