How you might approach difficult conversations in your work environment differently from having experienced this activity?
There are various inconsistencies that exist between the deeply held values and the actual behavior that should be adopted as solutions to the workplace problems. I have learnt that difficult conversations should be approached from the inquiry point of view rather than advocacy. This is because advocacy makes the consulting parties jump to their conclusions with no regard to explaining the rationales or how they have arrived at those conclusions. Advocacy makes the parties not elaborate on their understanding and experience in handling similar situations which lead to adoption of non-optimal decisions which may even aggravate the problem. There is high likelihood that the parties evade to have a critical analysis of the risks and costs involved in every alternative solution floated. Advocacy finally turns the conversation into a competition of who wins and who loses since it has no regard for collaboration and compassion.
Any difficult conversation that I have in the work place must be approached with no underlying assumptions, values or attitudes. This makes participants be involved in double-loop learning. The proposer of a solution to the issue under discussion has a chance to elaborate further on the basis of his answer and what informed it. It questions not only the facts behind the proposed answer but also the reasons and motives behind the proposal.
What have you learned about yourself and your likely inferences about others that can help you improve your reflective leadership?
The views that are expressed by colleagues must be taken with an open mindset that makes one question the concerns and views of colleagues. This enhances our personal understanding of contradicting opinions. It informs our resolve to be collaborative and open-minded so as to engage and accommodate other views from colleagues in an objective manner. I normally tend to have fixed mindsets when seeking solutions to problems, especially when I am dealing with a higher authority. I tend to take an advice given without questioning the source. This should not be the case since such a mindset takes away my curiosity where I dismiss my thoughts as inferior. Such behavior takes away my leaderful impulses of collectivity and concurrence (Raelin 2010).
Explain how the exercise exhibits double-loop learning and describe specifically any social and psychological impediments (Argyris 1994) that prevent this type of learning in your case.
The exercise exhibits double-loop learning by seeking to correct the underlying or root causes of the problem. Most of the underlying causes are the policies and systems that have been adopted by the organization, personal motives and perceptions and also informal organizational practices that make any form of inquiry into these failures difficult. The rigid strategies and policies of the organization are the main sources of problems but individuals fear challenging the status quo and tend to look for solutions using these same policies (Argyris 1994).
Some of the psychological and social impediments to the double-loop learning are the adoption of defensive reasoning that is adopted by managers. This censors what their juniors give as explanations of persistent problems in the organization. This creates a perception that those who may challenge the actual cause of the problem will be betraying other employees, the department and the entire organization at large. This is clearly demonstrated by variances in the theory that we use to explain the problems and the espoused theory. Such a defensive strategy is adopted by the managers and employees in order to avoid embarrassment and the notion that they are incompetent.
How might this case and the ‘Left-Hand Column’ support your work on the Critical Action Learning (CAL) Project?
This case and the ‘left-hand column’ support my work in the project through devising a strategic path that ensures that I achieve my desired goals and objectives. This is through identifying the tasks that must be completed, what needs to be learnt in the process for successful completion of the tasks and the kind and nature of relationships that I want to establish.