IBIS shares news, insight and best practices about pressing Diversity & Inclusion and Unconscious Bias topics in today’s workplace.

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Hot Topics in the Workplace: Debate vs. Dialogue

Inclusive Leadership in Today’s Climate

No one is born knowing how to lead an inclusive culture.

Even experienced leaders often have to ask questions like:

“What do I do when conversations about current events become…contentious?”

“How do I find the best approaches to manage and lead my organization in a polarized world?”

“What’s the best way to coach my managers to respond effectively to tension?”

It takes time to gain the skills and attributes of inclusive leadership—and even more time to identify them without a roadmap. Every workplace has to contend with topics like cancel culture, immigration policies, climate change, critical race theory, border conflicts, and discriminatory political movements. How can leaders support inclusive cultures that allow for difficult dialogue—and productive forward progress?

Debate vs. Dialogue

With pressing current events on the minds of employees, leaders need support to guide conversations toward productive outcomes that don’t leave employees feeling shut down or angry.

Leaders need to create psychologically safe workplaces that allow for employees to stay engaged…and feel heard.

One way to approach challenging workplace conversation is to ask:

Should we debate this? Or should we have a dialogue?

And what is the difference?

When we debate, our goal is to win, and that leads us to seek out flaws in the other person’s point of view. We will then try to attack these areas of perceived weakness.

But when we engage in dialogue, the goal is understanding. This leads us to identify ways to listen in order to learn, collaborate, and expand our perspective.

Debate begins with the assumption that one point of view is correct—but dialogue opens the door to exploring the perspectives of others.

Diving into debate is not the same as diving into dialogue, and leaders benefit from learning the key differences between these two styles of interaction…not to mention when to best apply them.

4 Attributes of Inclusive Leaders

When leaders shepherd cultural conversations through the framework of dialogue, they are leaning into one of the 12 Attributes of Inclusive Leaders: Trust. With this attribute, leaders are empowered to create an environment in which team members feel safe to engage in open dialogue.

Leading with dialogue also benefits from developing the attribute of Cultural Intelligence, in which different cultural norms are considered.

Practicing the Authenticity to share learning moments and be honest about vulnerabilities is another attribute which strengthens dialogue and builds the inclusive leader.

Where does all the dialogue get us? When a workplace ensures enough psychological safety to share concerns, reflections and fears, we are able to participate in work more fully and productively. As leaders, when we listen and learn, we are able to make changes. The attribute of Systemic Thinking equips leaders to identify changes in policies and procedures that will create an equitable workplace.

All 12 attributes of inclusive leaders enable greater change, evolution, and future-focused vision to advance competitively across a range of industries.

Got Framework?

At IBIS, we’ve integrated our best practices into a framework that makes inclusive leadership easier to learn and apply. Our 3-part Inclusive Leadership certification programs help leaders (and future leaders) become more effective at achieving DEI goals through a thriving and vibrant culture by focusing on the following three areas:

Part 1: Developing Core Concepts of DEI and Inclusive Leadership
Part 2: Building Foundational Awareness and Navigating Difficult Conversations
Part 3: Identifying Skills in Allyship and Advocacy

Learners gain insight into the use of dialogue as an intervention strategy, how to understand and benefit from both equity and equality, and how to effectively share concepts around racial consciousness and intersectionality.

Taking Action

These interactive facilitator-led sessions include storytelling, interactive theater scenarios, polling, large and small group discussions in a series of 3 sessions, which range from 2-3 hours and are supplemented by pre- and post-session work. IBIS always ensures learners are equipped with tools for action.

Through this offering, leaders deepen their commitment and skills in diversity and inclusion, personal growth, and action…benefitting employees, cultures and economies. Learners benefit from pre- and post-assessments; pre-work; 2-3 hour interactive theater or instructor-led workshops; and useful post-workshop tools.

Contact IBIS today to learn more about Inclusive Leadership.