What do we mean by Leadership?

Hmmm.  Leadership. So much easier to talk about when we were all managers! Because then we knew that what we wanted to be was leaders, but we were just managers.
Our way into this one actually comes through an understanding of conversation, and some of the ways we hold the word “conversation” – that is, that we give it more weight than just chat, or just what happens after the first few beers.
Mark Strom, the author of Lead with Wisdom (Wiley, 2013), found a pithy way of making a key distinction about organisational talk. He writes:
“Communication is sharing created meaning. Conversation is creating shared meaning… At a certain level communication and conversation are synonyms. Yet the distinction is not just playing with words. The bigger picture is our assumptions about knowing and meaning. Communication — sharing created meaning — suggests there already exists some knowledge that others need to know. We need to communicate: clearly, concisely, and relevantly.… Communication tends to assume that knowledge and meaning are things to be discovered and passed on. Conversation — creating new meaning — suggests that the meaning or message is not yet fixed. This kind of unscripted interaction can be a doorway to new meaning and new knowledge. Conversation tends to assume that knowledge and meaning take shape through interaction. Conversations highlight how meaning is tied to relationship.”
Mark then makes this connection:
“Conversation is a leader’s work. Conversation is to leading as communication is to managing.”

We are happy with that as a distinction to illustrate leadership, and as a definition to be going on with.


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