Ready for a Perfect Storm: Leadership, Dialogue and Trust in a Time of Disconnection

Since the 1980s, intercultural dialogue has become increasingly valued for its contribution to reducing prejudice, improving relationships, increasing intercultural understanding, managing difference and diversity, and contributing to democratic processes. Research has helped us understand, from lived experience and perspectives how intercultural dialogue contributes to meaningful and culturally appropriate societal engagement within diverse communities. But theories of dialogue have been largely on the back foot when applied to models of governance and work on leadership. Anxiety about the adequacy of leadership in our confusing, fragmenting, and fast-changing times appears on the increase. A better leadership requires new thinking about governance, new approaches perhaps that are refocused on the potentials and realities in our complex world, and on delivering positive changes to that world. This does suggest that we search for new understandings, and new arrangements for governance, and ones that might not resemble models with which we are currently familiar. The new ideas in this paper reflect governance that adapts to change, focus on behaviours, models, and cultures of leadership, and amplify the importance of dialogue approaches to key governance relationships. The paper looks critically at how dialogue can both succeed and fail in reinforcing both social capital, generally, and key relations between the governing and the governed. We explore whether the most significant resistance to progress is entirely social (referencing solidarity, shared values, and a sense of belonging) or whether the resistance is from structural conditions (deprivation, inequality, discrimination). In addition to drawing new conclusions from the literature as well as fresh experience from diverse global contexts and new forms of conflict, about the conditions in which dialogue prospers or fails, we highlight where new empirical studies might add to our overall understanding. We look at where both social movements and incidental conversations might create new contexts for dialogue and for supporting the trusted relationships so important for inclusive leadership and positive governance and what this means for actions and policies.
Mike Hardy

Mike Hardy

Chair of Intercultural Relations; Founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University.

Professor Hardy is Chair of Intercultural Relations and was founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University.

Uroosa Mushtaq

Doctoral Fellow (Cotutelle) at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, and Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University

Uroosa Mushtaq is a Doctoral Fellow (Cotutelle) at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, and Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University.