You’ve all heard that people should be having more crucial conversations, critical conversations, courageous conversations and so on. At My Personal Tactician, we absolutely agree, however…

The realm of contemporary leaders is disappointingly full of abdicators and autocrats. The abdicators – or as I call them, Passivists – don’t have the confidence to confront issues and hope that if they ignore a problem long enough it might just go away. The autocrats, often referred to as ‘Richards’ (no offence to people called Richard intended) use the excuse of candid conversations to mask their inner drive to single handedly achieve world dominance.

Human Synergistics’ (HS) organisational culture research shows that this isn’t just an individual problem, it’s endemic within organisations.  The most common organisational culture traits within the HS culture database are Avoidance (home of the Passivists) and Oppositional (where the Richards like to hang out).  Neither have any correlation with organisational success and both are linked to individual needs for security.  Affiliative – home of relationships based on mutual trust and respect, and clearly linked to individual achievement and organisational effectiveness – is the least prevalent trait.

So leaders, if you bark like a dog or cower when the heat is on, your behaviour is reflective of your own need for security.  And it’s not going to get you the outcomes you need.

Whilst searching for the magical cure for such corporate ills, we discovered two things:

  1. There is no magical cure!
  2. The secret has been staring us in the face for centuries. People that enjoy constructive relationships and share mutual respect are able to have robust conversations. Being able to have robust conversations stops things getting swept under the carpet and sh*t gets done.

We describe this as Pi (Professional Intimacy) = R(Relationships + Respect + Robust dialogue)

If you want and expect your leaders and their teams to engage in robust conversations then the first and most important step is to invest time in relationships – invest in those that you lead, those that you work alongside and those that lead you.

Make it your priority to find out if they are cat or dog people, have flat whites or piccolos.  Find out their partner’s name or if they like walks on the beach and poking dead things with a stick. I don’t know, just get to know them and be prepared to allow them to know you.

Then, once you are able to relate with each other, you can demonstrate and expect trust in the relationship. This is not about approval seeking or a being their special friend, this is mutual respect where you both ask more of each other than you would of yourselves.

Once the respect is earned, then and only then will constructive candour emerge.

 

Too busy to invest in relationships?

“But”, I hear you say, “how do I find the time to invest in relationships and stay on top of all of the other stuff?”.  It’s true – investing in relationships does take time.

You may have to find an extra hour a day to enact your investment strategy (see Finding Time to Lead). But the real question is, how can you afford not to? How much time are you wasting because you have no Professional Intimacy?

If you rate low on the Pi Index and you are not prepared to confront yourself – abdicate your role, find a nice cause or change your name to Richard. Either way, you won’t earn the right to lead.

Is your Professional Intimacy low? Find out using our Pi Index.