Leadership lessons from 32 years of Dialogue in the Dark

Three skills of resilient leaders.

Five roughly sketched people standing together talking to each other.

When confronted with adversity, one of the most effective strategies is to move back to the past and identify those resources which helped us achieving our best performance moments.

When we were requested some weeks ago to develop an online workshop by a big pharmaceutical company, we decided to review our successes throughout 32 years of Dialogue in the Dark.

The theme of the workshop was resilient leadership. We immediately connected the dots. Guiding sighted visitors through the dark, meanwhile they experience an educational and entertaining tour, requires resilient leadership skills from our blind guides.

We were convinced that those skills developed by our DiD guides and which are needed to lead in crisis, can be transferred to the daily business field. Therefore, we formed a panel of experts with some of our best blind guides from several countries. Together we explored and analyzed the most relevant skills which have helped them to guide visitors through the uncertainty created by the dark.

The findings were quite interesting, some of them even surprising. However, for the purpose of the workshop design we chose the three most relevant skills: “Check-in”, “Include”, and “Expand”.

“Check-in” refers to the ability to gain clear awareness of our internal world. Spending some time in the dark is a very emotional discomforting experience. Therefore, our blind guides have mastered the ability to check-in and regulate their inner state in order to help sighted visitors manage their unpleasant skills. It is very difficult to embark yourself as a leader and your team in an uncertain situation when you are not able to see your inner state and the emotions of the others.

“Include” refers to the ability of creating engagement in all participants through unlocking their strengths in the dark. As blind guides we do not ask visitors to walk in a line holding by their shoulders. We rather empower them to walk, explore and share. We do not monolog with them. We rather stimulate their curiosity and encourage a true dialogue. For all this, there is no other strategy than an inclusive leadership style.

“Expanding” refers to the ability to broaden our perceptions and mindset when faced with a difficulty. One of the master skills from our blind guides is expanding. When you are faced with visual disability, many around you would say that the solution is recovering eyesight. But often this is not possible. Therefore, flexibility is needed to expand the mindset and find new ways. In particular we found out that humor, hope, and realism were relevant ways to perceive to be more resilient.

Those three skills were put together in a slim interactive and experiential workshop. On November 4th we virtually welcomed 21 leaders from more than 10 countries. Three blind facilitators from Mexico, Ireland and UK hosted the session.

Our aim is to stay resilient despite all odds. Our aim is to refine our value for the benefit of others. That is why we are taking the Dialogue to the virtual world.