Even the most talented leaders need to develop sharp leadership communication skills that would allow them to reach their audiences with emotional and rational interaction addressing the topics they need to transmit. Being a sharp communicator is not the same as being a great talker or a great orator but better yet a great conversationalist and communicator.
Dr Ada Luz Gonzalez, PhD is the founder and CEO of Transformative Conversations LLC, a consulting business that coaches people to have better and more effective conversations. She facilitates leaders, businesses and organizations to change and develop leadership communication through effective dialogue. She is also the author of Transformative Conversations: The heart of the leadership journey.
How Transformative Conversations were shaped in childhood
Dr Gonzalez grew up in communist Cuba, where the flow of free conversations was not possible. She remembers a time before Communism took over where people were unafraid to speak their minds.
She fondly recalls spending many happy evenings, on the porch, listening in on her parents’ conversations with their neighbors about business, politics, religion, love and life in general.
Her fascination with conversations began at that time but all of these interactions changed when Communism asserted itself. There were no more conversations on the porch, distrust amongst people grew and free speech became nonexistent. She then valued conversations and the freedom to have them even more.
Yet she observes, that today in the “free” world, the scenario in many places is not very different from what it was back in Cuba.
“I have talked to families in which everyone (except maybe one person) sits in silence, with eyes downward, afraid to ‘tick off’ that one overbearing person. I have walked into workplaces where there is no buzz of conversations anymore. All you hear is the clicking of keyboards. I have been in meetings where there are only a series of monologues with nobody really listening or engaged, and nobody daring to speak their minds. I have seen leadership teams that are ineffective because they lack effective leadership communication”, she explains.
She then decided to lead a movement of people that connect and help each other be better leaders by having open dialogue in conversations. She conducts a Mastermind program centered around leadership communication to help people develop leadership skills for the new millennium.
Solving difficulties along the way
She has faced many obstacles right from the time she first left Cuba. When she started her college in the USA, she not only had to conquer finances and relationships but also struggled to learn the language. Despite her obstacles, she succeeded in achieving a bachelor of music, with classical piano as her major. She then went on to finish a MA in Educational and Developmental Psychology.
After finishing her Masters, she lived in Costa Rica and started giving piano lessons. Although piano lessons were not too well-paid at the time, it gave her the freedom to be at home while making enough money to make ends meet.
At the same time, she started having conversations with couples, and leading couple’s retreats. Not knowing much about how to monetize those efforts, she did it mostly as a service to the community. It was during those years that she self-trained in marriage and family therapy by reading, going to workshops and conferences, and by practicing. After her consistent efforts, she became a licensed marriage and family therapist.
In 2004, at the age of 52, she completed a PhD in Organizational Behavior, with an emphasis on leadership development, dialogue, and change.
Though she prefers running her own business, she has faced certain challenges when it comes to reaching a wider audience. She became more involved in social media groups and by networking and making her voice heard, she has successfully reached out to a number of people and helped them develop leadership communication.
Her strengths as a Latina entrepreneur helped her succeed in her business
“My strengths are wisdom, perseverance, and optimism. I’m also good at connecting with others at an emotional level and in turn helping people connect with each other. As a Latina, I understand the power of family and supportive relationships. In most organizations, many of the problems that executives face are due to disconnection and silos. I help them discover how much more they can accomplish through collaboration and connection”, Dr. Ada discloses.
Latinas starting or conducting their own business
“Move forward! Learn from the past, but keep planning and acting toward your dreams,” she said.
Her father taught her early in life that she could always put her best effort forward. “If I don’t succeed, I can always ask for help, I can find a different way to do things, or a different path to walk on. But, ‘failure is not an option’; And nothing is a failure if you learn from it and try again. I’m still learning, and I’m still moving forward”, she concludes.
Transformative Conversations editorial reviews
From the Back Cover
“Ada’s book will transform our leadership style. It is the secret sauce that leaders have been waiting for to raise the bar for enterprise wide communication within their organization. This is a powerful book filled with sage “dialogue” and pearls of wisdom. It is a must read for all leaders who aspire to be great communicators.”
“The book Transformative Conversations is a superb resource to any leader, or coach, who is working to improve their leadership. This is far from the first book written that deals with the dynamics of dialogue and effective communication. What is special about this book is the way Ada weaves wisdom from many sources into a useful flow that informs the reader about not only why this is a valuable subject, it gives clear guidance on how to pull it off. Personally, the part on silence itself was worth the read. If you want wisdom combined with practical processes to use to create more fruitful dialogue, pick up a copy of this book.”
~Frank Wagner, PhD, The Marshall Goldsmith Group
“Ada Gonzalez has hit on a topic that everyone in corporations are taking about today! How to balance the amount of listening and asserting occurring between people at work to ignite engagement and commitment to accomplish business priorities. For years, executives have been asking me for a good book on how to listen better and how to assert more skillfully. This book provides instructions on both. i highly recommend this a practical, yet well researched read that will help every leader focus on the kind of communication that matter and builds stronger, more influential relationships over time–virtually or face-to-face.”
~Barbara Singer Cheng. CEO Executive Core
“Transformative Conversations” speaks volumes to every leader I’ve ever been involved with. Dr. Ada Gonzalez provides practical tools and guidance to transform your communication by helping you create deeper understanding and meaning. As she so aptly states, “talk may be cheap, but genuine dialogue is priceless.”
~Patrick J. McKenna, co-author of international bestseller, First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals.