Conversational Leadership will mean different things to different people. What if we create more curiosity in experiencing Conversational Leadership rather than defining what it is?
As a facilitator of previous Conversational Leadership workshops, I have witnessed people both struggle and succeed in making this experience meaningful. For some, the meaning came through seeing the invisible in others and building connections, for others it was through being aware and choosing what to pay attention to. Some people learned to shift from performance to presence, yet others manage to let go of thinking and get in touch with their feelings.
There are some people that we voluntary give our power and allow them to take a lead because of how they make us feel.
Conversational Leadership provides the opportunity to become that person: someone who can lead themself first. Annemarie Roeper wrote, “The fate of the world depends on the Selves of human being.” It is this “self” that gets affected at the workshop through conversation with others. Working on yourself will call for curiosity, understanding, compassion, and care. Working on world issues will require openness to different ideas, the consciousness of choice in responding, and awareness of what is essential. It is this intentionality and practice that makes conversational leadership transformational.
As evolutionary biologist Humberto Maturana points out, we live in the language (or what he refers to as “languaging”) and the sophisticated coordination of actions that language makes possible. From the time when our ancestors gathered in circles around a fire, talking together has been our primary means for discovering common interests, sharing knowledge, imagining the future, and cooperating to survive and thrive. The natural influence of relationships and ideas enables us to learn, explore possibilities, and co-create together.
And yet Conversational Leadership is also so much more than each individual conversation.
From this perspective, a conversation is an action the very heartbeat and lifeblood of social systems like organizations, communities, and cultures. And a conversational leader is both speaker and listener; equalizer and distinguisher, transformer and transformed.
Perhaps this poem “Lessons from mumma” by the Canadian author Rupi Kaur might provide extra insight into conversational leadership:
when it came to listening
my mother taught me silence
if you are drowning their voice with yours
how will you hear them she asked
when it came to speaking
she said do it with commitment
every word you say
is your own responsibility
when it came to being
she said be tender and touch at once
you need to be vulnerable to live fully
but rough enough to survive it all
when it came to choosing
she asked me to be thankful
for the choices I had that
she never had the privilege of making
The upcoming Conversational Leadership Professional Short Course offered though the University of Maryland Project Management Center for Excellence ePM Program is a privilege to extend the boundaries of the self into the unknown and grow both as a conversational leader and as a human being.
Are you ready to build your own Conversational Leadership skills? Leverage the power of conversation to unlock creative thinking, innovation and continuous self-improvement for you, your organization, and the broader community. Learn how through our upcoming professional short course, Conversational Leadership, which starts on May 9, 2022.