Leaders Encourage Vigorous Debate

 

Vigorous Debate - 1Great leaders know how to focus on the positive, helpful, edifying and uplifting communication while managing the negative, destructive, decisive and demeaning communication in meetings.

Consider this advice from a seasoned old-timer to a young leader who was still early in his leadership career. It happens to be from the New Testament of the Bible.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” 

Titus 3:9-10

Have you ever been in a meeting that digressed and evolved into almost a free-for-all? As a contrast, have you ever been in a team meeting where the leader encouraged good debates and successfully squashed useless ones?

Such well-managed teams tend to finish their meetings with good plans and they do it on time. The participants feel productive and actually like getting together because everyone feels like they were a part of something productive.

But, back to my brief Biblical text. The Apostle Paul (the old-timer) exhorted a pastor (young leader) named Titus to refrain from arguing about peripheral subjects that divided his followers.  And I think that advice is relevant to leadership principles today.

There is a branch of modern communication theory that seems to have grown out of the apostle Paul’s philosophy. In 1968, Sir Charles Geoffrey Vickers, an English lawyer, administrator, writer, and pioneering systems scientist introduced the concept of “appreciative systems”, which later became Appreciative Inquiry (AI). It was really further developed nearly 20 years later at Case Western Reserve University’s department of Organizational Behavior. It started there with an article in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models. At its core, AI is positive debate that explores what an organization does well and how it can build on its strengths.

Vigorous Debate - 3As leaders it’s sometimes difficult to limit discussion and keep debates from getting out of control.

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Manic Monday: Evernote

Manic - Evernote - 1On of the things that is becoming more and more clear to me as I get busier and busier with my “day job” and the growth of Leadership Voices is the need to become more and more organized. I have been a fan and an aficionado of organizational tools for my entire adult life. And great organizational ability is needed for great leadership.

I was an ADD/ADHD kid. When I was in school we didn’t get medication for ADHD, we got sent to the principals office and paddled. So, I learned at a very early age to curb the “H” piece of that little 4 letter acronym. But the “AD” piece and the inability to focus on tasks in an orderly and organized fashion has plagued me my entire life. You may have seen a photo snapped of me recently working at my desk at home. It was fairly accurate of the condition of my desk and the surrounding work area. And it has caused me to reconsider and reevaluate my organizational prowess.Manic - Evernote - 2

I will never be the neat freak and have a spotless desk with every scrap of paper tucked away some pale neatly at the end of each day. But that doesn’t mean that I cannot be an organized person. It just takes more effort for me than for most.

The key for me has always been “writing it down”.

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