Conversations that Create “Culture Glue” and Problem Solving

By Judith E. Glaser

We all go through our own version of an identity crisis at least once in our life. Should I be a doctor, teacher, entrepreneur, or CEO of some global company? We all want to know where do I fit into the world, and where can I make my best contribution.

For example, I discovered I was an Organizational Anthropologist after struggling for a few decades, taking course after course and program after program, looking for what was right for me. Ultimately, I had to invent the unique identity that fit me—I was then set free to focus on doing it rather than worrying about it (and I love what I do).

I study the intersection of leadership, culture and brand—and help leaders describe, deconstruct, and transform their organizations—leading to higher performance.

From the Eyes and Heart of an Expert

After studying cultures for three decades, I discovered that great leaders, great cultures and great brands share something in common—the “glue” of Conversational Intelligence®. When we facilitate great conversations with our internal colleagues and external partners, we shift the energy in relationships toward positive and mutually beneficial outcomes. Great conversations are transformational, providing leaders with insights like those we get from a great coach who has the amazing ability to activate the wisdom we have inside of us and to give us the courage to use that wisdom to enhance the lives of everyone around us.

For example, former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton displayed conversational agility skills when he created “the play inside the play,” meaning that in the moment he could stop action, reframe, refocus or redirect a play—and get back on the field with new moves.  You get unstuck from things that don’t work right and reset your game again. Fran makes calls and everyone knows how to move on the field.

C-IQ teaches you how to be more strategic, more we-centric, to pass the ball to others rather than running the field alone. You learn to see the whole field and shift in the moment and work with others to execute the game plan. By seeing the bigger picture and holding that in your mind in a strategic way, you facilitate big plays with others.

Great leaders, like great coaches or quarterbacks, teach the players key words formoves or plays that intend to execute together.  The signal can be a word, number or symbol that everyone knows and applies on the field.

The Multi-dimensions of Conversation
Conversations are not just a one-dimensional sharing of information, they are multi-dimensional and understanding how to access the right dimension for the best fit with the situation is the art of conversations.

With C-IQ, we have three levels of conversation, each representing a way of interacting with others. When a team, partnership or company learn C-IQ together they can learn how to get into sync together in extraordinary ways and as a result the work they do together elevates results to heights never before achieved. When a leader says, “we need to move to Level III,” everyone knows what that means and moves in sync into that behavior. It transforms a team of leaders in seconds. The coach calls the play, and everyone knows what to do, instantly.

Level I:Transactional Conversations include interaction dynamics such as “asking and telling” to confirm what we know and to give people a platform for giving and receiving information from each other.

Level II: Positional Conversations include interaction dynamics such as “advocating and inquiring” to defend what we know and to give people a platform for having a strong opinion about something and letting others know what that position or opinion is. We are less open to influence and more interested in selling our ideas.

Level III: Transformational Conversations, also called co-creating conversations, include interaction dynamics such as “sharing and discovering” to ask questions for which you have no answers, listening to collect and discovering what we don’t know we don’t know and sharing insights and wisdom. This generative way of having conversations leads to more innovative insights, more disruptive thinking and deeper listening to connect to others’ perspectives.  People are more candid, more trusting, and more open to influence.

When a team leader knows the calls and can identify which level of conversation to operate from, the rest of the team gets into position and executes plays successfully to score more points for the team. The coach can access people’s best skills for the position they need to be in, and the team can win more games!

Next: Overcoming the Addiction to Being Right

Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of 4 best-selling business books, including her newest Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) 


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