By Mike Fink
The term "leadership" has been so widely used and abused
that I was really curious to see in what sauce it would be presented
this time. I ended up learning and acquiring many skills to use
in every human interaction for effective results. Collaborative
Leadership to me now means leadership though mutual understanding.
Out of the many, here are two of the concepts that struck me during
A fish is probably not aware of the water in which it swims as
being "water." In the same way we are so involved in
our interactions that we can hardly become aware of our personal
style and how it is affects other people's responses to our communication.
Try the following exercise (the answer is on the last page of
this Newsletter): link all the nine points of the following figure
with just four lines, without ever lifting the pen from the paper:
Very few people are able to solve it on their own, yet when they
see the solution they are surprised by its simplicity. Most people
try to solve the problem with the implicit assumption that they
must remain within the limits of the imaginary square.
In our professional and personal life, much of our frustration
and lack of effectiveness in communicating is the result of implicit
assumptions of which we are unaware. These assumptions limit our
ability to understand and be understood, and therefore to achieve
our goals, the same way staying inside the square limits our ability
to solve the problem.
The Syntax Collaborative Leadership workshop provided me with
opportunities to leap out of the ocean and to get out of the square.
I have learned the skills that enable me to become aware, in any
human interaction, of potential limiting assumptions and to supersede
them so that all parties can beneficially achieve their goals.
Another key learning was that "the (real) meaning of our
communication is the response that we get." When we interact
with non-English speakers we do not get angry or think they are
stupid if they do not react as we intend if we speak in English.
Rather we try to gather our scholarly knowledge of either French
or Spanish (or whatever the foreigner's mother language is) to
speak a language they can understand.
When we interact with children we adjust our vocabulary and language
to a level they can comprehend. We do not get angry or think they
are stupid if they do not understand properly what we would say
in scientific jargon or in terms referring to life experiences
they could not possibly have had. We strive to speak the child's
language so as to make our communication accessible to his/her
knowledge and understanding of the world.
Yet, when English speakers interact with English-speaking adults,
probably because of the illusion of a common language and of a
common background, we get upset and moan about others being so
stupid "because they just don't understand
The Collaborative Leadership workshop showed me how to speak the
other person's language and meet him/her where he/she is, in order
to achieve mutual understanding and hence results, the same way
we spontaneously do with foreigners and children.
There are many other concepts and skills worth sharing but a newsletter
article would not do justice to the richness of experiencing the
real thing. Therefore I leave it to you to attend the next workshop
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