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The two most important things in any company do not appear in its balance sheet: its reputation and its people.Henry Ford

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Leadership Unplugged

Leadership Unplugged

Conversation as a key change driver.

Author(s): Steven Sonsino, Jacqueline Moore

Publisher: Palgrave

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In an era where managers are expected to know how to lead change, conversation can be a very effective tool. Used properly, conversation can profoundly influence the thinking and behavior of others. However, this first requires understanding the underlying precepts and mastering the requisite techniques. The authors of this book propose to help managers do just that.
The heterogeneity of the book sometimes makes it difficult to read. Nonetheless, each reader will likely find what he is looking for, be it concrete methodological advice on the right behavior to adopt or a thorough look at the underlying theory. The following tips should help readers find their way around:
– For a quick perusal of the importance of strategic conversation to the business world and its benefits for leaders, go to chapters 1 and 12, which constitute a good introduction to the topics in the book. Chapters 6 and 8, which include the Brabantia and 3M examples, are written along the same lines. However, these latter chapters are more theoretical and academic. As such, readers will find them useful to deepen their knowledge, but difficult to skim through.
– The most original contribution of the book is undoubtedly the theory of the three phases of strategic conversation, namely debate, discussion and dialogue. The general lines of this theory are explained in chapter 2, which is a must read. For more detailed descriptions of each of these three phases, refer to chapter 3 (debate, using the example of the University of Illinois), chapter 5 (discussion, with the examples of Grace and Shell), and chapter 9 (dialogue).
– The ability to communicate clearly is mandatory for anyone who wants to master the art of conversation. Chapters 4 and 7 contain many practical recommendations on ways to communicate more effectively. In particular, these chapters use detailed illustrations from HSBC-Bital and Orange.
– Empathy and good listening skills, indispensable corollaries to clear communication, are covered in chapters 10 and 11. In particular, readers will find a helpful review of emotional intelligence and active listening techniques.