Diplomacy and the Art of Management

1. Introduction

Executives rarely see themselves as politicians or diplomats. Yet they have much in common. They have to negotiate and deal with diverse publics, maintain good relationships with the media, build healthy interpersonal relationships and be strong communicators. To succeed they need to develop and learn skills and knowledge that go beyond technical know how. Successful managers communicate effectively, understand power and lead their organizations in the good and the bad times.

This course explores the relationship between leadership and communication, analyses your communication style and the tools required for effective communication and examines the key role played by reputation. In Warren Buffett’s words:

‘If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be very understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless’.

2. Objectives

This course is about communication and leadership. It is about the art of leadership and effective communication. It is designed to:

  • develop your focus on and understanding of the role of communication in successfully leading and managing organizations
  • equip you with some of the tools to be an effective diplomat in business, someone who looks beyond the immediate operational context
  • provide you with knowledge of how effective communication is related to such key management issues as integrity, image and reputation
  • foster an awareness of the art, rather than science of effective communication in Management.

You will be introduced to the usages of the languages of diplomacy and politics that are key to business life. These languages have been identified by MIT researcher and writer, David Isaacs, as the languages of ‘meaning’, ‘feeling’ and ‘action’. You will examine how well-known personalities have successfully and unsuccessfully used them in the past. You will be given the opportunity to use these languages in class presentations and exercises.

The objectives of the course can be summarized as seeking to equip you with skills, knowledge and values so that you can use the languages of ‘feeling’, ‘meaning’ and ‘action’ effectively.

3. Content

The course has three modules:

  • Media and Reputation: You will be introduced to the wider context of mediated communication in which contemporary management and business leadership takes place. Understanding and knowing how to deal with mainstream media is not the preserve of company press officers and this is most vividly shown at times of crisis as we discover in the discussion of contemporary examples.
  • The Classics: Shakespeare touches on practically every aspect of human behavior and his works can easily be relate to the behaviour of people in the modern business corporation Readers can find in studying Shakespeare’s plays that they open an opportunity for reflection on their own behaviour, on that of their colleagues, and on that of their leaders. Shakespeare, in fact, raises some very interesting human dilemmas that can act as the basis for discussion on a prudent approach to management behaviour.
  • Diplomacy: Integrity posited against Machiavellianism – we will measure Machiavellian behavior as described in the “Prince” and the “Discourses” against the idea of the “wholeness of character”, which many employers search for. However, despite Machiavelli’s sinister reputation, we have much to learn from him about the pull of ambition, the play of power and their relationship to image and reputation. We will explore these issues in historical and contemporary examples, looking material such as Francois de Callieres’ manual, “On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes”, and the example of Tony Blair’s time in office. We will explore the relevance of soft power, diplomacy and integrity to successful management.

4. Methodology

You will be expected to participate in all class exercises. Attaining practical knowledge – one of the aims of the course – can only be achieved by doing. Therefore role play, performance, discussion and participation are key to realizing the goals of this course. There will also be short lectures and some required screenings and readings of essential texts. This material will provide the knowledge base for learning through doing about diplomacy and the art of management.

5. Course Evaluation

  • Class participation 60%
  • Papers (2) 40%

2 thoughts on “Diplomacy and the Art of Management

  1. It is refreshing to find a university teaching the critical skill of effective communication so that students are prepared when they enter the real world of business. Effective communication is a key to being an effective leader as no one can follow you if you can’t effectively articulate your vision of when you are leading to. Congratulations on finding an interesting method of teaching this important subject.

  2. Thank you so much for creating a course that teaches effective communication at the college level. As a professional business speaker and trainer, I am frequently engaged by companies to solve communication problems. Most of these problems could have been avoided if people were taught these skills in college.

Comments are closed.