Authentic Conversations takes a radical new look at the potentially transformational role of workplace conversations. Through over twenty-five years of work as organizational consultants, Maren and James Showkier have discovered that conversation has the power to create, sustain or change organizational culture. But much of the time the kind of organizational culture these conversations sustain is one that stymies growth and erodes commitment. The problem is an organizational culture based on a kind of parent-child model, with leaders treating employees as children who needed caretaking and protecting The Showkeirs advocate instead authentic conversations that are based on an adult-adult model. In these conversations participants tell the truth, let go of the illusion of control, and view each other as in charge of their own motivation. The result is a conversation revolution that creates greater commitment, real accountability for results, and improved organizational performance.
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Praise for Authentic Conversations
"This is as good as any book I have read about how to change the conversation to change the culture. It frames accountability in a powerful way and moves forward our thinking about how real change occurs. It is clearly and simply written... I highly recommend this book."
--Peter Block, author of Stewardship, Flawless Consulting, and Community
"I have not been a fan of reading business books with two exceptions--David Whyte's The Heart Aroused and Peter Block's The Empowered Manager. I will now add Authentic Conversations to that very small list, and so should you."
--Lee C. Smith, Founding Chair, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and President Emeritus, Levi Strauss International
"After thirty-five years working in newspapers and nine more as a `school readiness' advocate, I wished I had read this book decades ago. It would have helped so much. Its basic theme of honest, respectful conversations is the answer to so much in business and in life."
--David Lawrence Jr., President, The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, and retired publisher, The Miami Herald
"The Showkeirs have written a book that gives us the tools for conversations that can help us create a shared purpose and the future we hope for. This authentic approach is essential not only for business results but for any conversation that is important to you."
--Nancy Light, Senior Associate Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Chapter
"This book is for everyone, from the CEO to the everyday employee, who is serious about working in an organization in which every person has a deep personal commitment to the success of the business. The concepts and practical steps outlined in this book are easy to understand and are a genuine source of sustainable competitive advantage...This book offers us hope."
--Jim Burke, Regional Director of Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Watson Wyatt Worldwide
"If you believe that conversations change the world and if you have a passion for organizations that work, you will want this book. This book has the combination of relevance, inspiration, and actionable steps that I seek in books."
--John Schuster, Principal, Schuster Kane Alliance and author of The Power of Open-Book Management and Answering Your Call
"This book is about sharing the truth with each other in ways that build effective relationships and improve business results. It is not a fairy tale but an honest, hard-hitting book. And it's not just for leaders or managers--it is for everyone in your organization. If you want to compete successfully in the world marketplace, you need Authentic Conversations."
--Dr. Kent M. Keith, CEO, Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and author of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments
"I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a book on corporate cultures and leadership. Authentic Conversations gets to the heart of what is really going on in organizations, presents persuasive business reasons for change, and puts forth a proven strategy to get on with unleashing the organization's buried and dormant core potential. It left me wanting more."
--Patrick J. Banks, PhD, President, Banks International, LLC
"The Showkeirs' take on using conversations for cultural transformation is refreshing and eminently logical. They challenge much of the conventional wisdom about managing people. This book teaches us how to intrinsically inspire individuals to choose to succeed."
--Bob Gremillion, Executive Vice President, Tribune Publishing Company
"The Showkeirs' new book envisions organizations where employees treat each other as business partners, colleagues, and trusted advisors, allowing the wisdom of the organization to emerge. For leaders ready to share power in order to build an organization that is stronger, more responsive, more flexible, and more focused on serving customers, this book is a field manual for changing cultures. It is a must read."
--Melvin D. Dowdy, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Organizational Excellence, Bon Secours Richmond Health System
"Authentic Conversations is one of the most important books I've read in years. It makes a compelling case for the great benefits--both for people and for organizations--that can come from engaging in true conversation."
--Larry C. Spears, President and CEO, The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership, Inc.
"Authentic Conversations gives us a chance to renew and revive a lost art and essential foundational element so our society can be viable. Additionally, this book gives us models for how to have conversations for those who have never been exposed to an authentic conversation."
--Corwin Harper, Senior VP/Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Maren Showkeir and James Showkeir are the principals of Henning-Showkeir and Associates, a consulting firm whose work centers on harmonizing the demand for business results with creating a culture where individuals can find meaning and purpose at work. Their clients include 3M, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, British Airways, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett Packard, Levi Straus and The Nature Conservancy.
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