In Pursuit of Excellence and Ethics
‘Dialogue is the key to negotiations’
Prof. George Kohlrieser
Organizational and Clinical Psychologist &
Professor Organizational Behaviour – International Institue of Management Development (IMD), Switzerland
“Learn to accept another person’s perspective”, said Prof. George Kohlrieser, while addressing LIBA students.
It was an illuminating and engaging experience for the students of Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), Chennai, when Prof. George Kohlrieser, an America-born clinical and organizational psychologist, author, speaker, consultant and a professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) based in Lausanne, Switzerland addressed the students on the topic ‘High performance leadership’ at the Beyond Management Initiative session held on 30 August 2017.
Prof. Kohlrieser brought to light the importance of youth leadership and stressed on a leadership based on dialogue and bonding.
Leadership starts with leading one’s self. A true leader must have control on his or her emotions and thoughts. Having been a part of over 100 hostage negotiations, Prof. Kohlrieser mentioned that “leadership’s key challenge lies in bonding with the people you don’t like”. This challenge can only be met by getting rid of a tribal mindset which keeps categorizing people as ‘them’ or ‘us’.
Human brain is fundamentally negative. It is at peace only when it is sure that there is no fear or pain. Keeping the brain vibrant and positive is a tough task. One way of doing so is by finding a secure base. A secure base can be a person, place, goal or object that provides a sense of comfort.
“Leaders need to let go off their ego. Leading is about serving, it is a human process,” says Prof. Kohlrieser. Today’s business leaders need to become secure bases for their employees. There is a need to lead from the mind’s eye, interweaving dialogue and bonding in the leadership fabric.
In his special message for India, Prof. Kohlrieser said, “Indian leaders need to be inspirational drivers of change. While there is a need for the women in India to fight for their rights and stand their ground, the men also need to learn to bond and show emotions.”
This was followed by a Q & A session, where Prof. George Kohlrieser answered the queries put forth by the audience.
You talked about bonding with the people you don’t like. I find it very difficult. How do I do it?
You very often have to deal with people you may not like. Given the necessity of the situation, communication is a must. The key is to look at things from other people’s perspectives and learning to accept and agree. Once you do this, the next step is to form bonds by means of dialogue and it does not end there. You need to nurture those bonds.
How do I find my secure base?
You can find your secure base in your parents, friends, teachers, your goals or even in an object. You need to identify what actually comforts you. It should be something that lets go off your fear and gives your brain a sense of security.
How do I make sure that I don’t become too dependent on my secure base?
You have to understand where the boundary is. Deriving a sense of security from your secure base is one thing, becoming too dependent on it is another. You have to be careful. Your secure base should help you excel, it should not make you complacent.
You talked about accepting and agreeing. Is it not difficult to always accept and agree to another person?
It definitely is not always possible to accept and agree to the person next to you, but looking at things from the other person’s perspective gives you a better understanding of the situation. A better and clearer understanding of the situation leads to better decision making. A high performance leadership has its roots in having a holistic view.
Leaders also have emotions. They also experience sadness and grief which affects their leadership. How should this be tackled?
We all are humans. We go through a myriad of emotions. This does affect our productivity. It is difficult to have a set of measures or an algorithm to get over grief. However, being rational, accepting the reality and moving on, forgiveness, and gratitude can help.