I thought it would be apropos to wrap up our month of exploring the fundamental leadership competence of effective communication by recommending the book Talk, Inc. In it, authors Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind draw on the experience of leaders in organizations around the world, who are using the power of conversation to increase employee engagement and strategic alignment.
While top-down, one-way communication has been typically used in hierarchical organizations as a way to distribute news to internal and external audiences, it is a relic of a command-and-control model which no longer works. Groysberg and Slind assert that “…. people–and the energies and capabilities that lie inside them–are the ultimate source of optimal performance and sustainable competitive advantage.” Given that, they have found thriving organizations that are using organizational conversation to engage the best in their people to drive performance.
Organizational conversation, in their words, replicates the elements of good person-to-person conversation where the scale of the conversation is small and intimate; the structure of the conversation is dynamic and interactive; participation is equal and inclusive and the approach is focused and intentional.
Where they have seen organizational conversation flourishing, it has the following four elements:
Intimacy – leaders reduce the distance, institutional as well as spatial–that separate them from their employees. They do this by cultivating the art of listening to people at all levels of the organization and by learning to talk with those people in ways that are personal, honest, and authentic.
Interactivity – leaders talk with employees not just to them. Cultural norms are now favoring dialogue over monologue and changes in the technology of communication especially with social media, support this shift.
Inclusion – leaders invite all employees to add their ideas into the conversational mix. And they call upon employees to participate in the work of representing their organization as unofficial bloggers or trained brand ambassadors.
Intentionality – leaders promote conversation that develops and follows an agenda that aligns with the strategic objectives of their organization.
I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of the book in your local library or bookstore to learn more. Their insights about how to make organizational cultures more intimate, interactive, inclusive, and intentional through purposeful organizational conversation make it a good read.