Leadership is a Dialogue… Not a Monologue. Guest Post by Rachel Berbiglia

Introduction from Alana:

When I put out my call for November blog submissions, I was excited to hear from Rachel Berbiglia.  Rachel is a problem solver, with over 15 years of experience managing enterprise-wide, complex strategic and operational programs. Most recently, she’s managed over $400 million in acquisitions, including two based outside the United States. She enjoys the challenge of seeing the big picture while being able to execute on the details to ensure successful outcomes. Additionally, she runs a children’s literacy program, Building a Bookshelf, which she and her husband founded in 2010. Through this program, they’ve distributed over 26,000 books to children of low income families in the Kansas City area.

In her piece, she highlights a difference between effective and ineffective leaders – their communication approach with their teams.  While the setting of her contribution is the workplace, of course, I believe the principles she espouses work very well for all of us in the way we build relationships through networking.  With that, I give you Rachel Berbiglia…


Guest post by Rachel Berbiglia

rachel-berbigliaI’ve worked for leaders that I admire and they all share common qualities. I’ve also worked for a leader that I found difficult to respect, but couldn’t put my finger on why. When I compared the two types of leaders I realized what was missing: using dialogue to lead. It is one of those attributes you don’t appreciate until it is not there.

Dialogue Noun: conversation between two or more people. Verb: take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.

Monologue Noun: a long and typically tedious speech by one person during a conversation.

For purposes of this blog, let’s define “conversation” to be your work. The conversation between you and your leadership is the ongoing conversation that allows you to deliver work that contributes to the overall mission and objectives of your company.

Are you holding a conversation with your team or doing all of the talking? In my case, it wasn’t until I worked for someone who gave only soliloquies that I realized how important dialogue is in fostering leadership. If you aren’t having a dialogue with your employees, your team, your coworkers – you can’t be leading because you aren’t listening to what they have to say. They may have ideas, concerns, or questions that you haven’t considered. Or, maybe you have considered them – but they don’t know that.

The reality is many people do not realize they are engaging in monologue-style supervision and direction. In fact, it is likely that if you commented on their propensity to give long and tedious speeches, they would probably look confused, because they are likely unaware they do it.

In my example, my manager didn’t have a clue that he was doing it and unfortunately this meant he was unaware that he was causing his entire team to disengage. He didn’t have a clue that we all felt he was taking a path that would end in failure because we couldn’t get a word in edgewise to let him know. He didn’t have a clue that he was creating an environment where the intelligent, effective, and well-paid team was starting to disengage – going their separate ways because the environment created a lack of teamwork and was not the kind of place highly intelligent people want to work.

For people to be effective they need to be part of the conversation, not talked at. If you are a leader, you need highly effective (intelligent, productive, creative) people on your team. To be a great leader, you must engage them: talk, listen, have a dialogue.

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