In the highly regarded article, “The Necessary Art of Persuasion”, by Jay A. Conger, featured as a highlight in HBR’s 10 Must Reads, on the subject of Communication, there is a very simple yet very powerful statement:
“ . . it is impossible to engage people and gain commitment to ideas or plans without highlighting the advantages to all the parties involved.”
Though it seems rather obvious to most of us, many of us ignore this truth and instead focus on the brilliance of our content, and the style of our presentation.
One of the key experiential insights consistently reinforced through the “CorporateTheatre” learning methodology is that any group of people, irrespective of culture, background, perspectives, and convictions, can form high-performance teams given the following conditions:
- They relate to each other as ‘actors’ (people), and not as ‘characters’ (roles, designations, seniority, hierarchy).
- They have clarity of the same goal and alignment to the same collective success across interdependent roles and functions.
- They have absolute TRUST in each other’s clarity and commitment to the same goal and success (and not necessarily in each other as people, though that would undoubtedly be of great value).
All these 3 Pillars of ‘natural teams’, as we like to call them, especially the second one, require one essential ingredient – COMMUNICATION – clear, unself-conscious, non-possessive Communication. This is deeply explored during the course of the workshop. Key learning includes the following concepts:
- Communication is not a technique. It is an attitude that requires a certain conducive environment.
- Communication is not about your voice, your accent, or your vocabulary. It is more about how you experience the content of your communication and how you transfer the same experience to the receivers of your communication. The process is complete only when the receiver has experienced what the giver wants them to experience.
- Communication is as much the responsibility of the Receiver as it is of the Giver. In a communication transaction, both are ‘communicators’.
- The Giver needs to bring to the transaction, the following essential attributes:
- Clarity of the content
- Creativity to position the content in the Receiver’s frame of reference
- Commitment that the Receiver must share the experience with the same clarity and conviction
- The Receiver needs to have the following essential attributes:
- Creativity to capture what is given and relate it to the relevant framework
- Commitment to understanding
While facilitating these attributes on the part of the Giver and the Receiver may seem a very complex challenge, they fall into place when the Giver and the Receiver become aware that their ‘collective winning’ depends on understanding each other. This being so, the first few lines or the first few minutes of the presentation should establish beyond doubt that the giver and the receiver are working for the same goal, the same success, and that they can win as individuals only if they win together as a team.
More interestingly, as behaviourally demonstrated by participants during the course of the workshop, these possibilities become almost instantly and instinctively available in the ‘natural team’ environment. As repeatedly stressed in several of my earlier posts, the ultimate challenge of leadership is to create and sustain an environment where groups of people with their individual egos, aspirations and goals, form ‘natural teams’ that are genetically programmed to hunt, survive, and WIN in packs!