Thursday, October 30, 2008

We Talk Straight So That We Can All Walk Tall

I am going to take a shot at defining or identifying one common thread that connects each of the books and articles I have read during this first module. There are a few weeks to go until I move on from this portion of my MA Programme, but I am getting enough echoes and resonances from the literature that I want to capture this in one place. Let’s dive in.

In so much of our working life, too many of us underachieve (both individually and collectively) because we have an innate bias towards operating in what can be generalised as an overtly considerate manner. There are a number of general patterns that predominate. We avoid conflict. We are not straight with each other. We leave important things unsaid. We tip-toe around uncomfortable issues that we do not want to deal with.

In remaining within our self-constructed frame of politeness and consideration we are, albeit unintentionally, degrading and retarding performance at all levels. To evolve beyond this, our counter-productive interpersonal patterns should be unlearned.

This is not to say that the literature is implying that each of us needs to unleash our inner Michael O’Leary or channel Andy Grove so as to fully achieve our optimum potential. My use of the word ‘polite’ above may mistakenly suggest that being impolite in our career is useful. Obviously that is not the case. Rather it is that there is a lot of interference between what we ought to be achieving and what we actually do. Observing that interference and taking steps to mitigate it is the broad underlying theme.

I think I can further synthesise that theme into a one-line maxim that I could deliver on and that we could adopt in work as well: “We talk straight so that we can all walk tall”. Now that sounds like a plan to me...