As I had often written, when I began to work with leaders, I realized I had no idea as to the type and kind of leader I was. During all my years of leading, I never once asked anyone, “what kind of leader am I?” and no one ever told me. In retrospect, I sincerely believe it would have made me into a better leader had I posed the question. The facts bear me out. As I generated dialogue and eventually instituted Genuine Dialogue in the Inner circles of the organizations I worked with, the more the leader grew into a better leader.
Genuine Dialogue is real and desirable but must be carefully and thoughtfully entered into. While I want to be enveloped in Genuine Dialogue with those important to me, it may not always be possible. The experience requires at least two people committed to it who understand and live by its rules. The political climate of today is a perfect example of how complex and difficult this can be. In truth, depending on the subject, Genuine Dialogue may be challenging to undertake, or at the very least, a rare phenomenon.
I say this because the beliefs and powerful emotions of the conversationalists may discourage any “give and take” in the head and heart of the communicators. In such an instance, positions are so firmly established that Genuine Dialogue can be nearly impossible to invite and enjoy.
The process of being present in the moment and open to understanding the other’s words and beliefs, followed by assuring them through confirmation that you’ve heard and understood them, is a must before expressing one’s own position. And, when ideations are strongly ingrained, this is not easy to do.
Research and brain theory suggests that the amygdala precedes the neocortex relative to brain evolution, controlling our emotional outbursts and the physical actions that follow (an early survival mechanism). In contrast, the neocortex, which comes later in our evolution, is a higher-order fact-based brain function that influences our behavior in that manner.
In my opinion, the problem may have more to do with the sources of influence themselves. Are we more like our ancient selves, allowing powerful emotions to influence our behavior? Or are we influenced by a fact-based reality that lends itself to rational thought? These are interesting and serious questions that are potentially answerable from those we live and work closely with. They are those who know us best.