We gather, we talk, we argue, we share. We risk it all and open our hearts, and THEN the magic happens. What is it that we NEED to talk about, and why does it feel so risky so much of the time?
I am searching for a model for human relationship, growth and development, both in my personal life and in the organizations and communities that I belong to ~ my family, workplace, neighborhood, and church. In a way, it’s like searching for the buried treasure. X marks the spot.
Margaret Heffernan, in her TED Talk Dare to Disagree, said that 83% of CEOs are afraid to bring up concerns about their companies because of the conflict it might cause. http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_dare_to_disagree.html
This reticence to speak up or out can happen in any organization, and not just to the bosses. I am sure you are familiar with the feeling. Maybe you were like me and afraid to challenge your father until you were finally a college graduate and decided it was time to say what you really thought when he made fun of your decisions. Or maybe you had a hard time telling your employer that you couldn’t come to work one day because there were workmen in your house and you felt very uncomfortable leaving them alone there with the key. Why is it so hard to be honest?
Authority figures can sometimes be intimidating, but even authority figures themselves have trouble bringing up problems that might rock the boat.
The question, “How can we create a forum for safe and honest discussion?” is really important to me.
Well begun is half done.
This was the topic of our conversation today with Philippe and Yoko. Speaking what’s hidden is important~ and it can be easier than you think. Making a place to share is a good place to start. You might learn something important. Realizing how sensitive your daughter is to criticism, for example, may help you change your approach to her. Knowing your students’ needs can change the focus of your lesson plan. Giving your employees the freedom to ask for what they need can motivate them to contribute more.
The leader who asks for input from her constituents is a collaborative leader. Collaborative leadership is an exciting new paradigm for me. I first encountered the term while reading about Wisconsin 2020 Health initiative. I was out on the veranda, and felt like I had just discovered the key to the universe! ( http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/hw2020/pdf/collaborativeleadership.pdf)~ A way leading to greater growth and more sustainable development.
But it takes time to find out what people are really thinking and feeling. There are reasons why they are not participating more, or coming at all, but they aren’t just going to tell you unless you make it safe for them to do so. Maybe there’s a simpler solution than we realize. If there is one, I’m on a mission to find it!