×

Dialogue to Lead

Paulo Marinho and Paulo Nassar

 

With Correio Braziliense and Associação Brasileira de Comunicação Empresarial (Aberje) coming together on February 24th, for the Dialogue to Lead Seminar, it is necessary to revive the meaning of two keywords in the context of organizational communication: dialogue and leadership. Dialogue incorporates and expands the content of practice, and in doing so acquires the spirit of the regulator of democracy, along with concessions and input of the different social actors, in building the common good. As a natural consequence, the affirmation of leaders is attained through communication and an open dialogue with the primary objective being the search for solutions to the multitude of serious problems facing Brazilians.

In other words, there are historical and cyclical reasons for the choice of this subject. There is the belief in Brazil is that dialogue as a utopian ideal is possible yet until now unattained. The Proclamation of the Republic (Proclamação da República) was based on the positivist view, which excludes society and opted for a coup that removed the Emperor Dom Pedro II. They believed in positivism and a government consisting of the best. A messianic model where Brazil, in the Sebastianist tradition inherited from Portugal, found fertile ground to thrive. With the Revolution of 1930, the movement ended and thus cleared the path for a dialogue with new leaders. It did not last long: in place of constructive dialogue, they opted for force. One side had been the winner, but the fog of ruin lay over the reformist ideals and imprisoned them until the present day.

It is a synthesis of narratives which emerged from the coup of the Estado Novo and the post-1964 era. In the first, the lieutenants of the 1930 Revolution, the anti-fascists (during the time of the rise of Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy) and the Communists were all banned. In the second phase, in 1964 and until the 1988 Constitution, the dialogue was cut with the social reformers and again with the Communists. In both cases, the model of exclusion was chosen at the expense of the model that includes all social sectors. Although short lived, the result was an artificial consensus in favor of the elimination of dissenting voices, in place of a plural society. Consequently, the formation of leaders was stifled.

Today, after nearly three decades of the country’s democratization, effective communication has returned to prominence. Although not a panacea, it emerges as a solution for continued action mirrored in the common good. This is because Dialogue to Lead is synonymous with that which is the essence of contemporary communication: the strong interaction between words and action. Not words that conceal and deceive, but words as an expression of practical ethics, which involves commitment and responsibility, to find the best solutions to achieve normality in life and happiness for Brazilians. There is no place for the action of spin doctors.

The violent clash between dialogue and no dialogue, between training and the stifling of leaders, brought nothing good and only caused delays. Proof of this are the many – and serious – Brazilian crises that accumulated and deepened.

In daily life: endemic corruption, security, intolerance, health, mobility, taxes that defy gravity, rising inflation, unemployment, high prices, not to mention the water and sanitation crisis, two problems typical of the end of the 19th century. There are the youth with no promise of a meaningful tomorrow, no clear path to the labor market. There are serious problems in education. There is discord between the powerful. There is a development model in crisis. There are reforms to be made that never leave the planning stage. Why? Communication can contribute in a significant way to finding answers, starting with building trust.

Dialogue presupposes sharing responsibility. It is far from the inconsequential salvaging of appearances, as in dialogue for the sake of dialogue. It does not signify the absence of conflict, but the absence of violence. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre compared the social process to boxing and a street brawl. Boxing, despite the act of fighting, has its rules and goals. A street brawl was, and continues to be the expression of brute force. Dialogue, according to the Sartrean perspective, is the civilized expression of a brawl. It implies concessions and tolerance among participants. Those who wish to lead must know how to dialogue. To dialogue is to communicate with civility, not with the brute force of a street brawl.

The program begins with the Dialogue to Lead Seminar  which involves a wide range of subjects, with a particular focus on new paradigms. Above all, the democratic paradigm. Where there is democracy, there is criticism, there is controversy, there is the polyphonic chorus of ideas. There are different paths to solutions. The secret is to produce  convergence, a creator of currents of understanding. This is what reduces conflicts and lends rationality to perceptions. As the thinker André Malraux believed, men are formed through the deepening of their differences. The aim is to discuss Brazil and its impasses, and make visible the doors of the present and the horizons of the future. To unite and not silence the various modes of governance in the country, from whose violent clashes sprouted crises of no dialogue.

Leaders and their networks play an important role in the process of overcoming the no dialogue. In various fields of activity, whether they are real or virtual, there is a need for all to contribute to a transcendent vision, beyond partisanship to propagate a unified will in formulating and solving problems.

To lead, with a high quality of communication is to understand the truth as process, to conduct the search for knowledge (not for insult), to alleviate the contradiction of the facts by taking the path, often overlooked, of thinking before acting. Acting on impulse is not dialogue. It is acting according to circumstances, and not by rational parameters. Finally, the background of our central theme, Dialogue to Lead is to hold freedom as a value: freedom of expression, freedom of the press. Freedom as a universal value. Because dialogue and leadership are the sons of liberty. It is the necessity of history that Brazil must complete.

For the Dialogue to Lead program Aberje and Correio are inviting to join in a conversation those institutions that have in their roots and missions the defense of dialogue and communication as fundamental to contemporary society, including the ANJ, Aner, Abracom, Institute Open Word , Ethos, Abap and ABI.

 

Paulo Nassar is President of Aberje and Associate Professor at the University of São Paulo

Paulo Marinho is Chairman of the Board of Aberje and Director of Corporate Communications at Itaú Unibanco

(Text originally published on Correio Braziliense, 16th January, 2016)