Dialogue@Work

SPRING 2015

The latest thinking on dialogue and its critical influence on organisational performance

The Rise of Conversational Leadership

Executive summary

We are seeing the spread of a style of leadership that has dialogue as one of its defining features. This is characterised by a more open and personal style that leaders themselves enact and attempt to institutionalise at all levels of their organisations – helping to create collaborative and inclusive cultures. They recognise that it is necessary for sound decision taking, innovation and employee engagement in any modern, networked organisation.

So far, the importance of this open, conversational style has been much more widely accepted than it has been adopted. In traditional top-down, command and control organisations, working practices that inhibit dialogue need to change, and more than anything, the mind-sets and behaviours of leaders need to change. This can be seen as a challenge or a threat for leaders, and the prevailing culture can undermine any effort to change.

In our experience, many leaders say that they want to improve dialogue, but they do not recognise how much room for improvement there is. As a result, it is often seen as a ‘nice to have’ rather than being any kind of priority.

In this paper we have set out to give an overview of some of these approaches, illustrated where possible with examples. These are based on our work and experience.

The dawn of a new era?

In an interview with the Financial Times a few months ago Allan Clarke the new CEO of SABMiller described his leadership style as encouraging discussion: “Leading a business through conversation is probably how I would best describe it (my leadership style). That’s why I’m moving around the business so much.” [1]

This is not a young silicon valley outfit, where you might expect to see an informal and personal leadership style, but the world’s second largest brewer, with a turnover in excess of $22bn a year.

Clarke is one of a growing group of business leaders who see conversation and dialogue as being at the heart of their leadership style.

In recent research published in the Harvard Business Review – entitled Leadership Is A Conversation – participants from more than 100 companies talked about their efforts to ‘have a conversation’ with their people or to ‘advance the conversation’ in their organisation. It found that: “Smart leaders today engage with employees in ways that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation” [2]

These conversations are much more interactive, informal and personal than traditional corporate communication, where the top determines and distributes content, and where leaders talk rather than listen. They conclude that this style is the key to improve employee engagement in ‘today’s flatter and more networked organisations’.

But while the personal style of executives is important, in large organisations people at the top can obviously only have real conversations with a limited number of employees. So conversational leadership depends less on the heroic actions of a few individuals at the top, and more on collaborative leadership practices distributed throughout an organisation.

Marillyn Hewson, CEO and Chairman of US defence giant Lockheed Martin, recently explained how she seeks to foster a collaborative culture that stimulates discussion at the executive level and throughout the wider organisation: “The best leaders surround themselves with people who offer diverse opinions, complement their abilities and aren’t afraid to offer a different approach… and you need people at every level who have the courage to honestly tell you what’s working and what’s not – and when they disagree with you, they can’t be afraid to say so.” [3]

This recognises that an environment where people feel free to challenge one another, to share ideas and debate solutions, regardless of their level in the organisation, is crucial for sound decision taking, creativity and innovation.

To reinforce and extend this, Lockheed Martin’s promotion and selection process “always looks for leaders who value diverse teams, who know what they don’t know and who aren’t afraid to hear from people who disagree with them”.

As the CEO of one South African bank put it succinctly: “I never learned anything from someone who agreed with me.” [4]

A sign of the times

Many people see the shift to conversational leadership as essential and inevitable – it’s just the way that the world’s gone. Or, as Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company, put it: “In the knowledge economy conversations are the most important work.” [5]

In a modern networked organisation, centralised command and control management is high cost, slow and uncompetitive. It simply does not work in organisations that depend on employees to use their initiative and provide high quality service.

Furthermore, it’s out of touch with broader social change. Deference has been replaced by reference, so that rather than taking the word of a leader, we are more likely to make our minds up talking with peers or looking on-line.

Employees are better educated, better informed, and they expect to be heard.

“The open and meritocratic architecture of the internet that allows us to express opinions, expose misdeeds and build on-line communities, makes us less tolerant of the closed, top down power structures we experience in the off-line world.” [6]

We see these trends in all walks of life – even in the macho world of football management, as noted by Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal Football Club, when asked how his role has changed over the years. “You have to explain things to the people you manage – people are better informed, better educated and want to know more. You are still the boss, and it is you who makes the decisions, but you have to explain things much better than you did 20 or 30 years ago. It is the way in which society has moved.” [7]

Finally, the risks caused by remote and autocratic leadership were thrust into the political spotlight by the financial crisis of 2008. Fred Goodwin, described as a ‘dominant CEO’ by the FSA, ‘intimidated’ colleagues at RBS to the extent that his morning management meetings were known as morning beatings. His counterpart at Lehman Brothers, Dick Fuld, arranged his schedule so that he never met an employee without a formal appointment. These were not leaders who welcomed challenge or debate.

In his memoir, Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, blamed the crash on the lack of effective challenge at every level in these banks: “We must ask why increasingly reckless lending was not checked by the Boards of the banks. It can be very difficult to challenge the behaviour of someone you know and like, particularly when times are good and profits are soaring, but that’s what Boards are there to do. Financial regulation failed simply because no one, at whatever level, had been asking the right questions with sufficient determination.” [8]

Goodwin and Fuld were only two examples from a large cast of ‘superstar CEOs’ who led their companies through aggressive, debt-fuelled expansion during the boom years. They were feted and billed as ‘visionary leaders’ by Forbes magazine, and then they were reduced from heroes to zeros by the crash.

Since the crash people have been demanding that leaders develop corporate cultures that are more open, inclusive and accountable – paving the way for a more conversational style.

Two worlds colliding – the barriers to conversational leadership

But all the evidence suggests that conversational leadership has been much more widely accepted in principle than it has been adopted in practice.

“There are enlightened leaders and organisations that are ahead of the curve and have institutionalised a culture of dialogue. Nevertheless, the vast majority of leaders have disengaged employees. Look at Gallup’s annual engagement report – 70% of the workforce has been disengaged year after year since 2000.” [9]

All the research tells the same story – trust and employee engagement are bouncing along the bottom at all-time lows. Employee expectations have risen, but outdated management practices and mind-sets persist like echoes from a bygone age.

So what is the explanation?

The first point to make is that the great majority of leaders are definitely not like Fred Goodwin. In our experience, many leaders say they want to improve dialogue, but they do not see how much room for improvement there is. As a result, they see it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a priority.

Barrier 1: Persisting with the wrong kind of communication

Many leaders believe that they already have it covered off because of the time and money they already invest in employee communication. Ironically, research by the CIPD into low levels of trust in the workplace shows that this is frequently counter-productive.

“People highlighted the over-use of electronic communication through email, Twitter, blogging and so on, as well as the aptitude and appetite of corporate communication departments for spinning negative messages – a practice particularly disliked by employees.” [10]

The research found that employees trust leaders who are ‘personal, human and relational’, but the communication they mostly experience is stage-managed, impersonal and remote.

The standard model of corporate communication is still top down – leaders literally talk down to employees. The top of the organisation determines content and distributes information. Corporate communicators and many leaders see their role as promoting and defending the organisation. This leaves little role for listening or discussion. The required response is to agree.

In this model, leaders talk rather than listen. Followers listen rather than talk.

There is a vast amount of communication, but little genuine debate or challenge.

Barrier 2: Providing answers not asking questions

The fundamental change introduced by conversational leadership centres on asking and answering questions.

To engage, leaders need to ask questions – open questions, not the kind of tick box questions that feature in employee surveys. They need to draw people out, listen to them, at whatever level they work, and speak with them directly and authentically. In particular, they need to engage constructively with people who might disagree with them.

This replaces the simplicity of monologue with the unpredictable vitality of dialogue – it is open and fluid rather than closed and directive.

In our experience this is difficult for many leaders.

“Our managers dread being asked a question they can’t answer. They are afraid it might ‘undermine their authority’. Before they speak they want a PowerPoint, a script and a detailed Q&A.” [11]

In turn, employees know that the opportunities they are given to ask questions are not authentic – so they keep quiet.

In too many organisations employees do not make suggestions, because they do not think it will make any difference, or because they are afraid of being branded as troublemakers.

The end product is organisational silence.

Barrier 3: Blaming the culture

The problem is not just about the hierarchy. Many people describe it simply as ‘the culture&rs – and dialogue is often a cultural blind spot.

As human beings we are cautious about engaging. When conversation breaks down it often ends in ‘silence or violence’, as people withdraw or attack – and it is a basic human trait to avoid conflict. In teams people want to be seen as ‘team players’, so they often conform to the majority view. This means that many meetings and conversations become comfortable rituals rather than rigorous or challenging, and teams slip into uncritical ‘Groupthink’.

Effective leaders spot these rituals and find ways to make communication more authentic and challenging.

“In old Nissan, there was hardly any discussion in most senior management meetings… Today (after Carlos Ghosn’s turnaround leadership) our meetings are different. We actually debate issues. We openly disagree with one another. It took some time for all of us to get used to it, but our meetings are much more productive.” [12]

Many people tell us that their managers are too ‘polite’ to challenge or disagree with colleagues. The organisational culture is geared to avoid conflict, maintaining a cosmetic consensus and speaking with a single voice – even if this is at the expense of authentic conversation.

Leaders who suppress communication to try and avoid conflict and maintain control are not limited to the corporate world. Alistair Darling described cabinet meetings in the last Labour administration as follows.

“Both Tony (Blair) and Gordon (Brown) were reluctant to have open discussions if there was any possibility of controversy… Too often, the discussion was simply around the reporting back of the latest development, rather than providing an opportunity to stand back and ask where we were going.” [13]

This ‘fear of rows’ caused growing dissatisfaction among ministers who felt excluded and unable to explain or defend policy that they had not been involved in creating. Ultimately, the approach led to the widespread perception of ‘government by diktat’.

Barrier 4: Avoiding difficult conversations

One of the most pervasive rituals to scar corporate life is the annual performance review. It should be an opportunity for boss and report to have an honest conversation, but almost everywhere managers who want to avoid difficult conversations hide behind a tick box process, and both sides play the game.

The Stanford academic, Robert Sutton jokes that: “If performance review (as usually done) was a drug, it wouldn’t be approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration because it’s so ineffective and its got such vile side effects.” [14]

But it does not need to be this way. In 2012 leaders at Adobe, the technology firm scrapped their annual performance reviews. Managers are now expected to have regular ‘check ins’ – conversations with employees to give them coaching and help with their growth and development programmes. These conversations have no prescribed format or frequency and managers do not complete any forms to document what happens – they just talk. As part of the roll out managers were trained in the nuances of giving and receiving feedback and dealing with difficult conversations.

Adobe was spurred into action because the annual performance review system was ‘such a soulless and soul-crushing exercise’. Internal surveys at the company revealed that ‘employees felt less inspired and motivated afterwards, and staff turnover increased’.

In addition to the demotivating effect of the system, Adobe calculated that the annual review required 80,000 hours from the company’s 2,000 managers – the equivalent of 40 full-time employees per year.

Lack of time is a common reason why many people say that a conversational approach would be impossible where they work – but as Adobe shows, the amount of time being wasted by poor communication rituals is enormous – and ineffective performance management is usually just the tip of an iceberg.

In conclusion…

If many people see ‘the culture’ as the problem, it is also the answer.

Conversational leaders have personal skills to engage others with confidence – like drawing people out and managing conflict constructively. But they also identify and change practices that inhibit engagement – like performance management, lack of diversity and divisive reward systems. They aim to create an environment that fosters greater collaboration, openness and engagement.

People are naturally cautious about engaging in open conversation, but they also want to be heard, they want to share and compare ideas with other people – they are social animals. Just look at the success of social media or at groupware projects like Mozilla where there are no organisational barriers and people collaborate because it’s something they are passionate about.

When people are working towards a shared purpose, and they are confident that their views will be welcomed, they talk.

Conversation requires trust, but also, it builds trust.

Effective leaders recognise this and manufacture conversations to break the ice and shift the culture. The right conversation serves as a catalyst for truly far reaching change. The Millenials entering the workforce will settle for nothing less. It’s up to leaders to take a deep breath, and set the process in motion.

References

  1. Allan Clark, CEO SABMiller, Financial Times interview, 13.06.14.
  2. Harvard Business Review, June 2012, Leadership is a Conversation, Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind
  3. Marilyn Hewson, CEO and Chairman Lockheed Martin, thought piece published on LinkedIn
  4. Quoted from Margaret Heffernan, A Bigger Prize.
  5. Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company, quoted from the Harvard Business Review, 1993
  6. Gary Hamel, London Business School Labnotes, September 2011
  7. Arsene Wenger, The Arsenal Magazine, September 2014
  8. Alistair Darling, Back From The Brink.
  9. Wiggl website
  10. CIPD report; Where Has All The Trust Gone? 2012
  11. Respondent in The Right Conversation’s research, Spotlight on Dialogue, 2011
  12. Conversations can Save Companies, Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind
  13. Alistair Darling, Back From The Brink.
  14. Robert Sutton, Scaling Up Excellence, 2014

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By Dik Veenman, Founder of The Right Conversation

Classic Texts

In this edition we review another classic text in the field of organisational dialogue. Carol Gilliagan’s In a Different Voice, which explores the role of gender in conversations.
read more →

Safe Enough to Speak. Safe Enough to Listen

We can unlock potential when we are safe enough to speak and to listen.

Helen Green of examines the role of ‘Voice’ and the critical part that a ‘safe’ environment plays in effective dialogue.
read more →

Talking Points

First licensing workshops in South Africa

We are delighted to be running our first TCND (Team Conversational Norms Diagnostic) licensing workshops in South Africa in March 2015. They will be run in Cape Town and Johannesburg in conjunction with our strategic partner In Context.

Speaking Truth to Power – a major new research study

Ashridge Business School and The Right Conversation are launching a major study into what it takes for senior people to stay in touch with what is really going on in their organisation.
read more →

Why competition isn’t everything

One of our favourite business thinkers, Margaret Heffernan, recently published her latest book – A Bigger Prize – which challenges our deeply ingrained obsession with competition and argues instead for a world based on collaboration and dialogue. Read a review →

Previous Newsletters

July 2014
March 2014
December 2013
September 2013

Comments and feedback

We welcome comments and feedback and would be delighted to hear your views and opinions.

Click here to let us know what you think

A review of Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice

For those of us interested in dialogue and conversation, this is a seminal text. Since conversation is a social activity, to understand its dynamics we have to understand how much of our conversation is informed by the different languages of the genders – and have to challenge a world still dominated by a unilateral view that male habits are the desired norm and goal, and female norms are to be understood only in reference to the male ‘true north’.

The main argument

Carol’s starting point is to understand the world from the position of relationships rather than atomised individuals. Conversation flows by ‘seeing a world comprised of relationships rather than people standing alone, a world that coheres through human connection rather than through systems and rules’ (p 29).

This is an invitation to ground our conversations in the messiness of being with other people as we go about the business of our lives – she invites us to look into the reality of what is happening in the moment, rather than escape into the uncomplicated abstraction of theory. And this is why asking questions about ‘best practice’ in conversations is so dangerous – it takes us away from what gives a conversation life, the immediacy of actual, living, evolving relationships.

Carol positions our behaviour in relationships as a moral act; how we choose and don’t chose to talk with, be in relationship with, others matters – conversation has an ethical heart to it which no amount of technical skill can get around: ‘The essence of moral decision is the exercise of choice and the willingness to accept responsibility for that choice,’ (p 67) and in the case of women ‘in some instances [they] deliberately choose isolation to protect themselves against hurt’ (p 75). Much of our conversational practice in organisational life can be understood through this lens, people protecting themselves against the hurt that others could do to them if they became visible – stepped out of the chorus and into the drama of conversation.

In our analysis of conversational patterns of teams, what is starkly clear is how little attention people pay to looking out for each other. Too much time and effort goes into exploring the personal and inner experience, too little goes into paying attention to the relational fabric and how well that serves the collective group or team. Attempts to introduce turn-taking rituals are bound to be superficial, if they are not informed by an intimate valuing of the other – rather than a device for regulating the flow of monologue!

Her final observation concerns the primal importance of intimacy – and it is intimacy that is the missing ingredient in many of conversations at home and work; intimacy with its expectation of presence and care: ‘…intimacy becomes the critical experience that brings the self back into connection with others, making it possible to see both sides… The experience of relationship brings an end to isolation, which otherwise hardens into indifference, an absence of active concern for others’ (p 163).

Good conversation requires us to turn to each other, to let go of the fantasy of the all-encompassing sense that I and I alone know everything. Good conversation is an act of intimacy; maybe that’s why our rationalistic and individualistic businesses find it so hard to have good conversation.

In a Different Voice – Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Harvard University Press, (1993) by Carol Gilligan

by John Higgins, Research Director of The Right Conversation

Safe Enough to Speak. Safe Enough to Listen

We can unlock potential when we are safe enough to speak and to listen.

Helen Green of examines the role of ‘Voice’ and the critical part that a ‘safe’ environment plays in effective dialogue.
click here →

The Rise of Conversational Leadership

The time for what we call conversational leadership has arrived. There is increasing recognition that ‘command and control’ bureaucracy is high cost, slow and uncompetitive. And furthermore, that it is out of touch with social change. Leaders increasingly talk about their efforts to “have a conversation” with their people, or their ambition to “advance the conversation” within their companies.

This article explores the seemingly inexorable shift towards a different style of leading.
click here →

Talking Points

First licensing workshops in South Africa

We are delighted to be running our first TCND (Team Conversational Norms Diagnostic) licensing workshops in South Africa in March 2015. They will be run in Cape Town and Johannesburg in conjunction with our strategic partner In Context.

Speaking Truth to Power – a major new research study

Ashridge Business School and The Right Conversation are launching a major study into what it takes for senior people to stay in touch with what is really going on in their organisation.
read more →

Why competition isn’t everything

One of our favourite business thinkers, Margaret Heffernan, recently published her latest book – A Bigger Prize – which challenges our deeply ingrained obsession with competition and argues instead for a world based on collaboration and dialogue. Read a review →

Previous Newsletters

July 2014
March 2014
December 2013
September 2013

Comments and feedback

We welcome comments and feedback and would be delighted to hear your views and opinions.

Click here to let us know what you think

Safe Enough to Speak. Safe Enough to Listen

Starting point

Two years ago, whilst working with a decidedly impressive group of leaders, academics and consultants, I ‘discovered’ a subject that – until that moment – had passed me by.

That subject was Voice.

In dialogue, it emerged that many of the group had, in their work environment, consistently held back. They had not spoken of things about which they felt passionate, or with which they disagreed. They had remained silent when they wished to understand more.

It came as a big surprise because during my time in corporate life, I hadn’t been concerned when it came to speaking up. Then, reflecting on this new subject of voice, I started to recall times when I too had not voiced my opinions. I had sat in meetings exasperated, sometimes in full disagreement with what was being said, and yet said nothing. Why had I not spoken up?

The reason? It was not safe enough to do so: in other words, there would be some form of negative outcome. The frustration from staying silent was preferable to the possible or probable alternative.

For members of the Impressive Group, the consequences of not speaking up had been profound. Some individuals described a sense of frustration. Others talked of more serious repercussions including distress caused by tangible negative impact on health and wellbeing.

The consequences for their organisations were in all probability equally profound, if less immediately visible. Imagine the missed opportunities for dialogue which may have led to better outcomes, as well as the breadth and depth of untapped creative power.

Going Deeper

Intrigued by the concept of safety in organisational life, I embarked on a programme of research, grounded by the words of Edgar Schein, psychologist and management expert. He found that in organisations “psychological safety” was a necessity in order for change to occur and though this was consistent with my own experience, I set out to see how this sat with others.

Alison, European leader of a global manufacturing organisation, described a huge programme of work in her organisation, launched in response to insights gained in the engagement survey. Fundamentally, it aimed to enable employees to “speak up to uncover issues and to talk about things on their minds”.

Everyone was prepared and briefed on the purpose of the work, then encouraged to speak out. Leaders were asked to role model the desired behaviours and to create an environment where “people feel safe to speak up” – so no repercussions. However, there had been a significant oversight. Listeners hadn’t been trained in how to listen. Whilst some were already comfortable with and skilled in listening, many were not. When faced with views they didn’t like or didn’t understand, these individuals would defend themselves, their ideas, and the company at the expense of the speaker being properly heard. The result was that the unheard speaker became far less likely to ever speak up again.

This sparked my interest in how we can make it safe enough to listen as well as safe enough to speak.

Hannah, a Dialogue consultant, recounted the story of what happened at the start of a two day event at a Development Bank in the United States. There was a “check in” at the start of the day where everyone spoke briefly on a question relevant to what would follow. Shortly afterwards a manager who had been employed there for a very long time said “I feel really cynical about these couple of days and what difference it’s going to make”.

Hannah said she could feel the ripples around the room. It became a transformative moment for the whole group as collectively they entered a highly valuable change conversation. In Hannah’s view the “check in” had made it safe enough for the long-serving manager to voice his concerns. Paradoxically, he had taken a risk – which may not have felt completely safe to him – in order to build safety for others. He felt the fear and did it anyway.

So what makes it safe enough to speak and safe enough to listen?

Schein asserted that we need to feel safe for change to occur. So, with the constant change that organisations face, the way we both speak and listen are crucial, if fear is not to become the over-riding, crippling factor.

To achieve this, there are steps we can take ourselves and some which rely on others.

Safe Enough To Speak

Our own role: We feel safe enough to speak when the risk or frustration of saying nothing is worse than that of speaking up. We feel safe enough when we can allow ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them rather than worry about “getting it right”.

The role of others: We feel safe enough to speak when we are being listened to and really heard, when we think we will not be judged unfairly, and, crucially, when others around us also demonstrate trust and vulnerability.

There are also tools and approaches which can be remarkably effective in opening up new understandings and fresh dialogue. One such approach is Artwork, something I used with a client group when asking them to show their team in the context of the wider organisation. John, the team leader, was shocked to discover that one of the members drew the team in a prison – beholden to the guards and the authorities that surrounded them every day. John had worked closely with this person for over two years, yet this was a new insight generated through the drawing process. It had been safe enough for her to speak – or in this case draw! This led to new conversations, deeper understandings, and significant change.

I also use a “secrets process”. This allows a secret to emerge without attribution to the individual who holds it. A “secret” is a belief or assumption (which may or may not turn out to be true) that “cannot be spoken here”. This is a powerful approach to unlock further potential which makes it safe enough for everyone to hear, learn about and perhaps be changed by the experience.

Safe Enough To Listen

We can make it safe enough for others to listen to our voice if we act with care and consideration when we speak. Judicious use of gentle humour can help, as can asking for permission before sharing.

Proper listening requires the listener to be wholly present. When we truly focus on the other person (leaving our other thoughts, our mobile phone etc. outside of the room) they feel valued and heard.

As Margaret J. Wheatley, Organisational Behaviour Consultant and writer says;

“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

When we want to feel safe enough to listen to others, the most powerful approach is to stay curious and wonder what may emerge, leaving behind any judgements, predictions or interruptions.

Implications for organisations

  1. Value the Dialogue: In Dialogue the focus is on learning about others’ points of view and perhaps re-assessing our own. This is rare in organisations as the focus tends to be on discussion or debate where the focus is on winning, persuading, or scoring points.
  2. Value Learning together: We can learn from anyone and everyone in our organisations. Great ideas can come from anywhere and leaders are everywhere. Unlocking the innovative and creative potential from throughout the organisation is critical – not only to survive but also to thrive.
  3. Develop Listening skills and Presence: In our busy working lives, we very often don’t listen well. Rather than listening to understand, we are distracted, or interrupting, or planning our response. Listening skills can be learned and developed, as can being Present. Patsy Rodenburg, one of the world’s leading voice and acting coaches, says this of presence: “all it is, is energy. Present energy – clear, whole and attentive energy”.

We can unlock potential when we are safe enough to speak and to listen.

In the end it comes back to conversation, which when entered into with the right spirit and intention is a fulfilling human experience.

Our relationships can prosper and, inevitably, so will our organisations.

By Helen Green, Orient8 Consulting

The Rise of Conversational Leadership

The time for what we call conversational leadership has arrived. There is increasing recognition that ‘command and control’ bureaucracy is high cost, slow and uncompetitive. And furthermore, that it is out of touch with social change. Leaders increasingly talk about their efforts to “have a conversation” with their people, or their ambition to “advance the conversation” within their companies.

This article explores the seemingly inexorable shift towards a different style of leading.
click here →

Classic Texts

In this edition we review another classic text in the field of organisational dialogue. Carol Gilliagan’s In a Different Voice, which explores the role of gender in conversations.
read more →

Talking Points

First licensing workshops in South Africa

We are delighted to be running our first TCND (Team Conversational Norms Diagnostic) licensing workshops in South Africa in March 2015. They will be run in Cape Town and Johannesburg in conjunction with our strategic partner In Context.

Speaking Truth to Power – a major new research study

Ashridge Business School and The Right Conversation are launching a major study into what it takes for senior people to stay in touch with what is really going on in their organisation.
read more →

Why competition isn’t everything

One of our favourite business thinkers, Margaret Heffernan, recently published her latest book – A Bigger Prize – which challenges our deeply ingrained obsession with competition and argues instead for a world based on collaboration and dialogue. Read a review →

Previous Newsletters

July 2014
March 2014
December 2013
September 2013

Comments and feedback

We welcome comments and feedback and would be delighted to hear your views and opinions.

Click here to let us know what you think