Here, SUMS Consultant, Jane Ball, explores the transformative power of a dialogic leadership approach for university leaders and managers.

Professional Dialogue and Dialogic Leadership

Think of the leadership teams you’ve been a part of. Have you ever seen a handful of people dominate, or any disagreement be equated with conflict or division? Have overlapping responsibilities ever soured some relationships? Have colleagues ever acted independently and been opaque about what they were doing and why?

As the new academic year begins, many leadership teams will be preparing to perform at their best, perhaps reigniting the journey through away days or team building exercises. Most of us have experienced underwhelming versions of these kinds of events but this doesn’t need to be the case.

Key takeaways:

  • Professional Dialogue provides an effective and at times profound way of talking and thinking together that gives groups of people access to the quality of engagement usually only achieved in one-to-one or small group conversations.
  • The result of establishing Dialogue and shared understanding in organisational culture is that people stop tripping each other up, they no longer frustrate or anger each other, opportunities to collaborate arise naturally and there is an ease of working together. Leadership sets this way of working from the top of the organisation, decisions are made with the involvement of those who are affected by the decisions, and people participate in designing change.
  • Effective collective leadership requires ‘double-hatting’, the capability of individual leaders to think from the perspective of both their department or division and the whole organisation.
  • Dialogic leadership allows universities to develop better collective understanding, adaptive thinking, and decision-making by senior

To read Jane Ball’s paper in full, download The important roles of professional dialogue and dialogic leadership here.

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