Some weeks back, I shared on LinkedIn thoughts around The Patient Consult. Among other things, I offered up these 4 considerations around consultation.
Promote a healthy diversity of opinion. Successful innovation depends on it. The best answers to practical problems emerge from the interaction of people with different strengths, different motivations, and different “worldviews.”
Don’t judge an idea until all information has been gathered. Good ideas are often lost behind small problems of detail. Allow ideas to be revised following consultative input.
Share views openly without judging any individual. Diversity is a question of practical importance—to find the “shining spark of truth” wherever it resides. It is also a question of the fundamental need for input other than one’s own. In the Bahá’í sense, this is done for the love of God and of his creatures. In a business sense, it is done because it works!
Create a warm, friendly atmosphere to promote unity of purpose and openness among diverse elements of the company. The physical and el-notional atmosphere sets the tone for any interaction. Warmth begets warmth; good will begets good will; trustworthiness begets trust.
These, I contend are important whether we are talking leadership or management. The focus simply changes from where are we going to how do we stay on path.
Consultation matters. I love these considerations offered by Paul Lample. While conviction can be powerful, it can also be constraining. Consultation opens us up to greater understanding. Indeed, “the maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation”. Greater understanding advances our sense of truth. We are seeking inward and outward learning… the letter and the spirit… the words and their meaning. With that in mind, I offer up what I call CUTE Consultation.
Cooperation. Understanding. Truthfulness. Excellence. These are the spirit and goals of great consultation. Argument sacrifices to dialogue. Cooperation is co-operation. We operate together. We seek to understand and to find a deeper sense of truth. And we better comprehend that “excess of speech is a deadly poison”… speaking to the importance of true listening.
Consultation is courageous and open.
Consultation is discerning and wise.
As a Baha’i myself, I offer those thoughts of Paul Lample above and this blog post from 2015 on consultation. This is not about Faith but about thought, and I invite you to consider. In all true exchange of thought, we seek the spirit of Excellence. That said, true consultation requires the practice of character in all of its myriad faces, facets and forms we call virtues.
Consultation stands in the face of the knee jerk. It provides an arena for perspective, not argued but dialogued. 4 people can stand around the 4 sides of an elephant only seeing their side. If you ask the one at the front, they will describe ears, trunk, eyes and more. If you ask the one on the left, they will describe the shape in a direction that is opposite of the one viewing from the right side. Heaven forbid you ask the one viewing the behind. But bring them all together to consult and the pieces form a much better picture of the elephant. You might also invite those who might hover above or below same pachyderm.
You get the point. None of us understand all aspects of a problem. When we come together, we get a much better picture from which to draw Discernment and Decision. In these times of challenge around health, justice and economics, great leadership and management needs perfect such process and spirit.
Peace, passion and prosperity…
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ― Abraham Lincoln