IN THIS SUMMARY
Successful business leaders understand that organizational success requires collaboration at all levels. Collaboration is no easy feat, however, as it hinges on clear, honest communications in the workplace. In complex organizational structures, it is easy for misinformation to spread, causing communications to become murky and preventing employees from forming productive partnerships. In Clear Leadership, Gervase R. Bushe terms these cloudy communications interpersonal mush. Interpersonal mush needs to be clarified before true collaboration can take place, and the only way to accomplish this is through learning conversations— the building blocks for collaborative work systems. Clear Leadership provides managers with the tools and techniques necessary to conduct learning conversations, cut through the mush, and sustain collaboration in the workplace. Sense-making is the process of making up a story about another person’s experiences (such as what they are thinking or feeling) in order to explain a situation or behavior. Interpersonal mush is the inevitable result of sense-making; it is what results when made-up stories, rather than facts, form the basis of an interaction. The only solution to problems caused by interpersonal mush is to conduct learning conversations. Learning conversations produce interpersonal clarity for a few different reasons: * Each party becomes more aware of their own personal experience. * Each party hears accurate information about the other person’s personal experience. * The resulting context allows each party to understand the part he or she played in creating the problem. Although the skills needed to participate in learning conversations are basic, they are not easy. In order to learn from an experience, leaders need to understand their own experience and also uncover others’ perceptions of the same experience. Furthermore, they must be able to describe their experience thoroughly and accurately to others. This requires leaders to be: * Self-Aware – In any given situation, they know what they are thinking, feeling, observing, and wanting. * A Descriptive Self – They pay attention to when others might be sense-making and then supply enough information so they have a more accurate idea of what is going on. * A Curious Self – They stimulate others to tell the truth about their experiences and become more aware of them. * An Appreciative Self – They focus on the positive aspects of people.