Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - How to Travel with a Salmon


Book Reviews

  • Recommended Books
    Conversation Agent participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

As seen on

Advisory Boards

Comment Policy, Social Guidelines

  • Critical discourse is welcomed. I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments. See my social guidelines.

« The Art and Science of Marketing | Main | Cinquecento: Fiat Wants You »


Let me declare: I like Dali's idea that to show people what is expected would be very disappointing. Nice thought. Let me also declare that I'm a little avant-garde with my ideas about leadership. I want leaders to be more human and more humane. I want men and women to place much higher priority on developing themselves than they now do; most leaders are intent on pointing at the abilities or weaknesses of others. They're not as intent on self-examination and their own skill development. I want leaders to stop talking so darn much about making the numbers and start talking a lot more about making a success-nurturing environment.

Why mention that? Because in my zeal to help others see what I see, in the past I tended to show people a little too much of what they didn't expect...and lost my audience.

Business executives are very nervous about what they don't see. They are almost terrified of the unexpected. Why are there systems and policies and procedures? To make routine what would otherwise be too chaotic to manage. Too chaotic to do anything meaningful with. So, we leaders try to make Henry-Ford-like assembly lines for pretty much every situation - mechanical, technical, artistic or human. Why do we call ourselves "human resources" or (God-forbid) "human capital"? Because if we can make it like a machine, we get predictability. Then we deserve lots of money and we can sleep at night because we rooted out not only the unpredictable, but the unimaginable.

I like Dali's idea. It needs something more for business though. Let's add an idea to it. In business, it is very important to show people what they need to see. This will help them believe that you understand them - that you relate with their fear of the unpredictable - that you agree that routine helps eliminate fear, that control is good. After that trust is established, you can inch toward the more avant-garde.

If you push people too close to the edge of the map, that place beyond which the ancient mapmakers said there be dragons, you might end up in that territory all alone. People who invite you to lead want first to be affirmed and understood. So, showing them what they need to see, hear and feel is a good starting point. It’s not the only possible starting point, to be sure. It is just a good, safe one. One that will probably have you leading more people than if you took a damn-the-expected approach.

With trust you can ask them to join you at the edge of their experience, at which point they might just trust you as their guide.

David Facer

The comments to this entry are closed.