Improving Communication in Executive Teams:
You’re part of an executive team that is required to work together and make key decisions that will ultimately affect the entire organisation. Yet you’re bogged down and struggle to move forward as ineffective communication prevails.
Typically the root cause of this ineffective communication and failure to flourish as a high performing team are the divergent perspectives individual team member hold. Consequently the team, remain unable to come close to framing up problems in a common way. Without the ability to do this the team remain unable to be effective decision makers. This may have a profound impact upon team and organisational objectives setting, strategic agility, strategy execution and ultimately results.
So what’s the solution? Dialogue is! High quality Dialogue enables true, shared perspective taking and the framing up of problems in similar ways. This might sound like simple however it is not. More than just active listening, high quality dialogue emphasises that we as leaders get in touch with our own underlying assumptions that automatically determine when we speak and what we choose to say. Dialogue is focused upon our thinking processes and how our cognitions and perceptions of the world around us are pre – formed by past work and life experiences.
Dialogue is about generating a natural flow of conversation. Unlike feedback, dialogue discourages anxiety producing direct interpersonal encounters. Instead the whole group or team is at the epicentre of the learning, and members share the potential excitement of discovering collectively ideas that none of them may have not thought of. The role of individual contribution is blunted by the goal of reaching a high level of quality conversation and communication as a team. A lot of the individual work is internal where examination of ones own perspectives, frames of reference and schemas takes place and in the process the desire to get air time to impose or advocate a view is diminished.
The underlying assumption of building the capacity to engage in dialogue is that if we are able to first reach much higher levels of consciousness of our thoughts we can optimize our own thinking. We will then be able to engage more effectively with others and understand each other more clearly. This will enable the team to reach awareness of others thoughts, gradual creation of shared perspectives, and so become increasingly creative and efficient in resolving previously unresolvable problems.
It takes time for the capacity of the team to develop high quality dialogue. However if reputations, relationships and results are at stake then taking the time to build the ability to experience high quality dialogue is definitely worthwhile isn’t it?