“One must not be afraid of a little silence. Some find silence awkward or oppressive. But a relaxed approach to dialogue will include the welcoming of some silence. It is often a devastating question to ask oneself, but it is sometimes important to ask it – “In saying what I have in mind will I really improve the silence?”
~ Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant as Leader
“The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel, and misrepresentation.”
~ C. Northcote Parkinson
“A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.”
~ Peter Fenn
“A conversation is a dialogue not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.”
“The secret to my success lies in my burning commitment to always seek a win/win solution. First, I seek to win. Then I seek to win again.”
~Notes from a Failed Executive
The Secret That Exceptional Influencers Know — Dialogue Skills & DiSC
I recently spent time with leaders at a very prominent Fortune 100 company. One of the most compelling needs that came up over and over again was the ability to help their high potentials to effectively influence and communicate.
Often, people have difficulty defining just what they mean behaviorally by what I call the “power of positive influence.” Is it executive presence? Is it charisma? Is it the ability to speak and write articulately and to be able to persuade others when needed?
Yes, it is all of those things AND, research shows that what really makes the difference is the ability to consistently use dialogue and to adapt one’s style to the style of others with a tool like DiSC. Webster’s defines dialogue as “the free flow of meaning between two or more people.” This definition is not terribly clear but it could be described as knowing when to inquire and when to advocate and knowing when to balance the two given the needs of the situation.
The philosopher Martin Buber used the term “dialogue” in 1914 to describe “a mode of exchange between two human beings in which there is a true turning to one another, and a full appreciation of another not as an object in a social function, but as a genuine human being.”
In fact, at this same aforementioned business meeting, multiple Pulitzer-prize winning author Thomas Friedman made a similar observation. I am paraphrasing liberally here but the essence of what I understood was that he is often initially amazed at how he can speak with people and can get away with being very controversial in his views. Yet because he listens and truly seeks to first understand the perspective of the person he is interviewing at the time, he can do so respectfully. He said, “It is amazing what people will allow you to say to them if they know they have first been heard.”
Going back to the relationship between positive influence and dialogue skills, those who are exceptionally influential often step up and respectfully disagree where others may be hesitant. When others shy away from ”touchy” subjects or push their arguments so hard that their colleagues resent their tactics, those skilled at dialogue state their positions and the facts calmly and accurately.
While others may ignore those who are silently fuming, they first invite them to speak, listen to what they say, and encourage openness even if they don’t agree with their position. While others may trade relationships for results, these truly influential people achieve both through dialogue.
This sounds a lot like what I have been writing about recently in regard to the “Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team’s” second step of the process which is to encourage a healthy debate around ideas and not about personalities. Of course, first a foundation of trust must be present which is largely due in part to a true spirit of dialogue and healthy discourse.
In fact, healthy dialogue skills are first fueled by an attitude. This attitude is an “and thinking” and not an “or thinking” attitude. In other words, someone who possesses effective dialogue skills believes they can be honest and respectful while at the same time confidently expressing their opinions while being open to other points of view.
While I could write an entire book on this topic alone, here are 5 key tips for becoming more effective at dialogue and therefore becoming a more effectively influential leader yourself.
- Pay Attention to your Intentions – ask yourself if you are truly seeking to resolve the mutual issue rather than seeking to prove how smart or right you are. Ask yourself: “What do I want from this conversation?” “Am I willing to be influenced?”
- Balance Inquiry with Advocacy – in the West, we are taught to strongly advocate for our position as soon as we enter the formal educational system. The “squeaky” if not the most articulate person gets the attention for good or for ill many times. For most of us, true inquiry comes a bit harder as it has been trained out of us. Ask yourself if you can ask others: “What led you to that view?” “What do you mean by that view?”
- Build Shared Meaning – Dialogue is not complete until all relevant meaning is shared by everyone. If the free flow of meaning is stifled, everyone suffers. Those in charge miss out on essential information because people fail to raise issues, ask questions, or openly disagree. And those who withhold information are left to deal with uninformed commands or decisions. One question to ask is “When we use the term, _____, what are we really saying?”
- Become Self-Aware and Know Your Typical Dialogue Style and How You React Under Stress – As always, understanding yourself first is the key to wisdom. Look to your DiSC style for further clarification regarding how you typically respond to conflict. The Everything DiSC Workplace Profile Report explains this clearly for you personally and provides tips for you to become more effective in potentially emotionally-charged situations.
- Explore Impasses – Part of the power of “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” process is its ability to help teams identify and remove extraneous obstacles that prevent them from focusing on the real issue that needs to be resolved. One of my favorite concepts in the program is The Conflict Continuum which looks at conflict as a continuum with artificial harmony on one side and mean-spirited personal attacks on the other. Many individuals and teams initially fear that if they engage in any dialogue about areas of conflict, it will deteriorate into mean-spirited conversations. Nothing could be further from the truth if this group dialogue is well-facilitated. As an individual, begin by asking yourself, “What is the real issue we are discussing here and how can I separate the issue from the personalities?”
For assistance in applying these ideas to your workplace, please call us at (404) 327-6330 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DiSC® Assessment Application(s)
1) Webinar Replay for the “Building and Fostering a Cohesive Team: Your Ultimate Competitive Advantage”
Best-selling author Patrick Lencioni has joined forces with Wiley (formerly Inscape Publishing) to offer this excellent process for building effective teams.
Teamwork is the lifeblood of an effective organization. Unlocking the code to getting groups of people to work together in high-performing and joyous ways is the key to a profitable and sustainable corporate culture.
The process consists of an individual and team assessment based upon Lencioni’s time-tested, proven model. The accompanying Facilitator Kit walks you through his research-based model to uncover where your team’s strengths and areas for growth and development lie.
2) The Everything DiSC Workplace Profile Report and Facilitation Kit
Everything DiSC® Workplace can be used with everyone in an organization, regardless of title or role, to improve the quality of the workplace.
Everything DiSC® Workplace is classroom training that uses online pre-work, engaging facilitation with contemporary video, and online follow-up to create a personalized learning experience. Participants understand and appreciate the styles of the people they work with. The result is more effective and productive working relationships.
Everything DiSC Workplace focuses on four vital areas:
- Discovering Your DiSC Style
- Understanding Other Styles
- Building More Effective Relationships
- Includes Optional People-Reading Module
Make the Program Work for You
Everything DiSC Workplace is the most in-depth, easily customizable DiSC-based workplace-development solution available. Workplace-specific, personalized content creates an in-depth learning experience. Modular design and online tailoring features allow you to design a customized program that’s right for your organization.
Personalized content creates an in-depth learning experience. Modular design and online tailoring features allow you to design a customized program that’s right for your organization.
Click here for a Sample Everything DiSC Workplace Profile.
Click here to purchase the Everything DiSC Workplace Facilitation Kit.
3) The Coaching Clinic Workshop: Coaching Skills for Leaders and Managers
The Coaching Clinic is a two-day leadership development program designed to train managers, executives, leaders, and supervisors to use coaching skills in their work relationships. There is also a half-day version available for executives.
Developed by Corporate Coach U, this program allows participants to:
- Discover coaching as a powerful leadership and management development model.
- Experience and practice “state of the art” coaching techniques.
- Understand the structure and process of integrating a “Coach Approach” as a leader.
- Apply the learning within the workplace right away.
4) The 8 Dimensions of Leadership: DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader by Jeffrey Sugarman, Mark Scullard, and Emma Wilhelm
We all approach leadership from a unique starting point – a combination of our own psychological make-up, intelligence, training, and experience. When anyone strives to grow as a leader, they need to stretch their energy in new directions.
For example, a person may be promoted into a leadership role because of their outgoing nature and positive attitude. While this visionary style may prove inspiring, they might also need to develop their analytical side in order to be more successful at running a business.
The 8 Dimensions of Leadership Model described in the book is based on the DiSC model, a systematic way to understand the forces beneath the surface that drive our individual behavior.
Let’s look at the strengths of the Deliberate Style of Leadership and the lessons we can learn from them.
First, let’s review the strengths of the Deliberate or “High C” Leader. Deliberate leaders take a measured approach to their work. They are not about the immediate payoff or making grand gestures. Instead, they use logic and carefully design systems so that they “get it right.”
The Strengths of Deliberate Leaders are that they are:
- Determined to get things done right.
- Often able to separate emotions from facts.
- Inclined to take the time to create systems and structures.
- Not afraid to question ideas that seem illogical.
- Comfortable working autonomously.
- Able to work tirelessly to solve problems.
- Usually provide solid evidence for their arguments.
What can those of us who are not so naturally Deliberate learn from those with this predominant, natural leadership style?
The three lessons we can learn are:
- People can’t read your mind.
- The dots won’t magically connect themselves.
- Leaders are responsible for ensuring that processes run smoothly.
The ultimate goal of understanding your leadership style is to broaden your repertoire beyond your comfort zone/default setting so that you can make the best choice of leadership style and behavior based upon the needs of any given situation.
There is a four step process for using this information to improve your leadership effectiveness as follows:
- Discover Your Primary Leadership Dimension.
- Learn about the Psychological Drivers, Motivations, and “Blind Spots” Typical of Leaders with Your Style.
- Reflect on What Really Matters Most in your Leadership Development Right Now.
- Learn Leadership Lessons in the Areas in Which You’d Like to Grow and Expand.
Stay tuned for future webinars and trainings which will delve into The 8 Dimensions of Leadership Model so you will know how to apply it for your own, and your team’s, leadership development needs.
For more on how to increase your organization’s effectiveness using the appropriate Everything DiSC profile and/or training materials for your unique needs, please call us at 404-327-6330 or email me at Laura@lauraadavis.com.
Transformational Coaching Tip: Becoming more Deliberate
Whether you are naturally a Deliberate style leader or not, here are some tips to help you build upon the strengths of this style.
Tips for Becoming More Deliberate:
- Be deliberate in your communication.
- Empathize with others who may require more clarity and be patient.
- Be sure to establish a main point and refer back to it regularly.
- Pace yourself to balance action with communication.
- Show that you have done your homework and really do it!
- Slow down and focus your energy on one important item at a time.
- Gather information that will help you sell your ideas to others.
- Explain to others with more specificity than seems necessary.
- Pay attention to process management tools and methods.
- Study current processes to get a clear picture of what is working and what isn’t.
- Devote enough time to get it right.
- Embrace your analytical side and do your homework to keep tabs on processes at regular interval.
For assistance in applying any of these best practices into your workplace for more powerful, effective results, feel free to call us at 404-327-6330 or email Laura at Laura@lauraadavis.com.