Leadership comes when you learn to declare breakdown: Sameer Dua

 Sarika Malhotra        Last Updated: July 26, 2016  | 13:37 IST
Leadership comes when you learn to declare breakdown: Sameer Dua
Sameer Dua

What if one could create a life, an organisation or a team of design, rather than that of drift, by getting skilled in creating a future of choice? Talking about his book, Declaring Breakdowns,  Sameer Dua tells Sarika Malhotra about the framework to actively create a future of one's choice.

In the light of declaring breakdown, what role do speculative ideas play?

To declare a breakdown is to state that you are declaring a break from an old flow of life, and creating a new flow. In the process of designing a new future, one key conversation to have is the 'Conversation for Possibility". Such conversations entail crucial steps such as Listening for possibilities… If you listen for possibilities, you will find possibilities - you just need to wear the lens to see these; and develop the ears to listen to these. Remember, when possibilities are over, possibilities are not over (they were never really there in the first place); it is from where you see (the observer you are) it looks they are over. If you tune yourself to listen for possibilities you open up space for possibilities to show up. Another crucial step is to speculate what future may be created… Speculative conversations relate to what could exist or might be done in the future. The key questions to be asked: 'What is possible to do?' 'What future would we like to create? or "What new can we achieve or create?

One of the key rules of the speculation conversation is that the participants of the conversation invite ideas - and no ideas are criticised at this stage. The last step of the conversation for possibility is to make a declaration of the future you commit to achieve. Most accomplishments begin when someone makes a declaration. This declaration then acts as the context for future action.

What are the best leadership traits?

My claim is that all of us are leaders. However, many of us do not exercise our full-blown leadership in our own lives, perhaps because we do not 'see' ourselves in control of our lives. So, how do you exercise your leadership? To understand that, we need to understand 'who is a leader?' Based on some papers of Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen, a Leader, in my assessment, is someone who creates an extra-ordinary future; gets others to commit to this new extra-ordinary future; and, generates and co-ordinates action with others to achieve this new future. If a leader creates an extra-ordinary future, then we need to understand what it means to create an extra-ordinary future. An extra-ordinary future means a future that is different from the default future. It is a future that is beyond the usual. When you create an extra-ordinary future, it means you as a leader have chosen to declare a breakdown. You state that if the normal course of events were to take place, and if you did not actively participate in changing this course, you would end up in a particular future. This future is not ok for you. You want to choose to be at another destination, and that destination is extra-ordinary given the current perceived circumstances. So, the claim of this book is: to exercise your full-blown leadership, you have to be skilled in declaring breakdowns in your life

What are the vital ingredients to nurturing relations?

The key element of nurturing a relationship is to take care of what the other cares about. This is different from taking care of the other. Taking care of the other is to take care of them basis what you suits. For a relationship to nurture, in an organisation, or in one's personal life - you need to connect with what others care about, and then take care of that - that which others care about! This is a big blind spot of our culture - we believe by simply taking care of the other, we have taken care of what the other cares about!  

In the world of organisations the pressure to move quickly away from conversations for relationships seems to be growing. What are your views on this significant change?

To get meaningful and productive results with other people, the first conversation you need to have is a Conversation for Relationship. Conversations for Relationship create a foundation of workability in which people are free to express their concerns and make open requests. Participants in this conversation relate to each other as a function of their commitments, instead of relating to each other based on the assessments, interpretations and feelings they have about each other. Rather than resigning themselves to patterns of defensive behavior, resentment or cynicism, they focus on building relationships and opening possibilities through their speaking and listening. You either have Conversations for Relationships in organisations, or you pay the price for not having these conversations, and the price is significant - high attrition, low morale of team members, and most importantly, lack of delivery of results. Would you rather have these results, or a short conversation for relationship to understand interests, cares and commitments of the others? In my assessment, this is a no-brainer - and yet - this is blind to many in organsiations.  


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