23 November 2009

Dialogical leadership for global challenges

As you engage in dialogue with others, do you find yourself defending or suspending? William Isaacs explains that human conversation evolves in two potential directions: defending or suspending. “Defending” conversations use facts and data to answer problems and employ explicit reasoning. They often lead to controlled discussions in which advocacy and abstract verbal brawling devolve into competition, debate and down beating. By contrast, “suspending” is a more conscious and choiceful state of listening without resistance. Suspending conversations may lead to reflective dialogue, and reflective dialogue frequently leads to generative dialogue that is creative and inventive, and which produces new insights, unprecedented possibilities and group flow.

There is a need for greater reflective dialogue among all of us as we navigate the complexity of our personal and professional lives and the global challenges that confront us. Dialogue has a rich history, and there are many ways to conduct a dialogue session.

Isaacs identifies four dialogue types: movers, followers, opposers and bystanders. Movers provide direction. Followers support completion and follow through, based on the suggestions and leadership of movers. Opposers oftentimes confront or block movers’ suggestions and support correction of courses of action. Bystanders provide perspective as they look at situations from the “outside-in.” All of these types, in a proper dialogue, move through states of voicing, listening, respecting and suspending.

Voicing is the process that asks, “What needs to be said?” Voicing entails speaking the truth of one’s own authority and thinking. Listening is the process that asks, without resistance or imposition, “How does this feel?” Respecting is the process of asking, “How does this fit?” It requires awareness of the integrity of another’s position and the impossibility of fully understanding his or her perspective. Suspending is the process of asking, “How does this work?” and is the suspension of judgment, certainty and assumptions. Progression through each of these states is a valuable learning experience for members of an interdisciplinary team.

What is your dialogical leadership style? Are you often in defending or suspending mode? What is your preferred role? Are you a mover, follower, opposer or bystander? Dialogical leadership skills are essential to success, given the debate that is being waged in terms of health care reform in this country and around the world. Consider exploring some resources that will support dialogical approaches to global challenges.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International

16 November 2009

Next tech-generation leaders

I learned an interesting statistic while at the 40th Biennial Convention of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI). Forty-five percent of the members of the honor society are now under the age of 50! What this means to me is that there will be next-generation leaders to guide and navigate STTI into the future. What also fascinated and intrigued me was that some of the younger members of the honor society will clearly be next-generation leaders who are also technology-generation leaders.

Take, for example, Robert Fraser. He is a registered nurse±a graduate student—from Canada who has an amazing Web site called Nursing Ideas. I had the opportunity to chat with Robert at the convention. He is passionate about nursing and technology. He was actively roaming and scanning the convention—back pack over one shoulder and tripod grasped in his right hand. He tried to capture as many nurse leaders as he could and get their ideas on nursing leadership. It was amazing to me how passionate he is about using technology to inspire, connect and help create nursing-knowledge networks.

For example, he recorded his own presentation at the convention, in which he challenged all of us to use the technology that is available to advance knowledge sharing and community building in nursing. Next tech-generation leaders, like Fraser, are using the vehicles of social media to link and expand connections while simultaneously supporting aggregation of knowledge, development of skills and the spirit of connection among nurses around the world.

I suspect there may be a young person with whom you work who is up on the technology and social-media trends emerging in your organization? If so, I believe we all can learn a great deal from these emerging leaders. Through the magic of dialogue, each of us can engage in transformational learning. Find the next tech-generation leaders in your organization and ask them what they are up to. What you learn may surprise, delight and fascinate you.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

06 November 2009

Paths to global health

The 40th Biennial Convention of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) was exciting, full of challenges and celebrations! Several things captured my attention, and I want to invite action by sharing some reflections and resources with you.

First, I admire and appreciate the fact that the House of Delegates voted in favor of a resolution to support the United Nations Millenium Goals. I first learned of the
Millenium Project when I became interested in future studies. Nurses are ideal leaders and can exert influence in millenium goal achievement. In fact, with regard to research methods and health, several resources are available to support teaching and learning about the millenium goals.

What is most exciting is President Karen Morin’s call to action: Connecting through knowledge for global health. When you combine and cross-reference the 2009-11
presidential call to action with the Millenium Project, you realize that nurses can and do make a difference on a global scale.

Another exciting development is the honor society’s intention to seek associative status with the United Nations, another resolution that was approved by the House of Delegates. Past President Carol Huston notes that we should hear about the status of our application in December. Stay tuned!

Once STTI becomes recognized and actively engaged in more UN activities, the influence of nursing leadership will contribute even more to global health. How will you learn more about the millenium goals and decide what role you will play in supporting achieving achievement of those goals?

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.