conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Posts Tagged ‘leadership

Warren Bennis: Dance to music yet to be heard

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

November 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

18 HBR Finalists on Redistributing Power

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It Is Written: The M-Prize and You

08162013-tumblr_mrfv0yClam1qeubbbo1_1280For some time I’ve wondered what leadership will look like when the power of monologue is finally revealed as the empty shell it always was.

I’m not alone with that question.

It seems the folks running the Harvard Business Review have teamed with McKinsey to incent people to rethink “the work of leadership, redistributing power, and unleashing 21st century leadership skills.” The result is a series of case studies that should prove interesting—and not just to folks in the leadership industry.

I’ve not read any of these 18 articles but I plan on reading them all. I’m interested because the more we learn about how to build conversations that free our best thinking, the more likely we are to innovate. And the more likely we are to find ourselves living out our vocation. And the more that happens, the more better everything gets.

Yesterday I stumbled on an ancient text that presented an insight on the very kind of leader the M-Prize hopes to unearth. The text talked about a very unusual leadership skill set: This leader is equally at home encouraging the worker in pain as he is furthering the cause of justice. This leader can fan the dying embers of a person’s passion even as she moves earth’s largest causes forward. No trampling on others in an upward climb for this leader.

If you stop by Conversation is an Engine with any regularity, you know that a theology of conversation exerts a powerful gravity around here. We have this hunch that people were made to be in conversation and that we become fully human as we engage in conversation. And more: conversation may be a part of any knowledge we lay claim to.

Naturally, there’s a lot more to say about this.

But the leader who understands the power of conversation and works at interactive collaboration rather than straight-line order delivery is the leader poised to succeed.

It is written.

So—Kudos to the HBR/McKinsey folks for their vision.


Image credit: actegratuit via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

August 16, 2013 at 9:15 am

Low-Life Exiled Son of a Hooker

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A Leadership Story You Never Heard in Sunday School

lf-01112013Jeff, son of Gil, was a fighter. Jeff’s mom was a prostitute—which deeply embarrassed Jeff’s brothers. Jeff’s brothers—born of Gil’s wife—told Jeff in no uncertain terms he was different, not up to par, had no share in the family business and had to go. So he did: Jeff moved off to a different country. In that different country he attracted all sorts of has-beens, slackers and ne’er do wells. Jeff’s low-life friends went out and did their low-life stuff together.

Years passed. Jeff’s brothers took power and a neighboring nation declared war on them. So they called Jeff to lead the attack. Jeff said, “Why? I thought you hated me.”

[under their breath: we still do you son of a…and maybe we hate you even more now but] “Come be our leader.”

So he did. He proved to be a hot-head and prone to rash vows, but Jeff first tried to reason with the opposing army. When that didn’t work, he went and busted them, which did work. But in the process he vowed something very precious to win the battle. It was a promise he would deeply regret and remains entirely barbaric today (hint: don’t wager treasures from your own home).

I read this story a few days back and it reminded me that all sorts of people get enlisted to lead us forward. My favorite ancient text points to a leadership tree composed of a family of deceivers, a tongue-tied retiree, a prostitute,  and this son of a prostitute—just for starters. One thing these losers had in common, even beyond a sense of calling, was trust in some One larger than themselves as they faced a need way out of proportion to their tool box.

So…just because you don’t have what it takes to move your team or family or people forward, doesn’t mean you should not consider the task. Look for a way to trust, which seems a good way to proceed, given the frailty of our human condition.


Image credit: Thom Ang via Frank T. Zumbachs Mysterious World

Written by kirkistan

January 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

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