Audi Alteram Partem (Listen to the other side).

The ability to ‘listen’ to the part of the brain he needs to use first (even if it is not the ‘preferred’ one) in different situations as well as when it is time to listen to both. This is what (I believe to be) some leaders may call as Contextual intelligence – the proficiency at adapting knowledge and skills (QI and EQ) to different situations and environments to make informed decisions.

In common law, Audi Alteram Partem is a Latin phrase meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. It is a fundamental principle of English common law that a decision-maker should listen to, and take into account, both sides of an argument. This principle is encapsulated in the Latin phrase Audi Alteram Partem, or ‘Let the other side be heard as well’.

Audi Alteram Partem in leadership & project management.

The context I want to bring here is our ability to listen to the two sides of our brain. I am not a specialist on the topic (or any topic) and will share my personal views based on both, readings and work life experience.

As it relates to me, listening to both sides of our brain all the time is not something natural to everyone. We need to practice it. In my case, it took while before I started thinking of it. All of us born with different aptitudes, abilities, and talents. Some people use more the right side of the brain and others the left. If you are not familiar with this at all, i found this short definition about the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

The left side of the brain is responsible for controlling the right side of the body. It also performs tasks that have to do with logic, such as in science and mathematics. On the other hand, the right hemisphere coordinates the left side of the body, and performs tasks that have to do with emotion, creativity, and the arts.

In my life and work experience, I came across different professionals and personalities with very different set of aptitudes and talents. Some had the outstanding ability on computing and technical subjects but when it comes to soft skills and to deal with people and emotions, such individuals seemed less interested. On the other hand, also met people with tremendous interpersonal skills who can/could easily get along with others and embrace socially but much less inclined to logic and processes (I am not saying that it applies to everyone).

Depending on the level or job we sit in our career (mainly as an individual contributor), we may have the tendency to use our talents (sometimes inate one) which leads us to mostly use one side of the brain – and still have sucess / progress in our career – depending on personal aspirations. However, if we aspire higher flights (and that happens to me), we need to develop the ability to somehow connect the two sides of our brain and consciously decide how much you use in your daily interactions and tasks.

If you are the leader and have both sets of people (strong on one side of the brain) in your team, you may say… ‘Well, it is easy. We just take the best from both and align on a common goal. They will complement each other’. That is true, but what if you have someone who tends to use mostly one side of the brain, doesn’t believe she/he needs to work the other side in order to excel/develop as professional  but have the ambition to move into a job or level which ‘listening to both sides’ is required? How would you handle it?

This is how I see it. The best way to help this professional is to expose him to a situation in which he will be forced to exercise that. And use the 70-20-10 rule. Where 70% of development or learning take place on daily execution/doing the job, supported by 20% coaching or mentoring (use LARA mode), and 10% on classroom training. I vehemently believe in it and, on situations which I want to stretch and develop a talent, my first instinct is to involve him/her on a cross-functional project.

Why do I love project management and use that on my people’s development? 

In my book, assigning people to work on projects is a great platform for the coach and coachee to work together, get input from others and measure the RODI (Return On Development Investment) as a whole.

Those who are familiar with six-sigma and project management may be familiar with Gibbs reflective cycle (the Hamburger Model). According to that, 5% of the projects fail because of processes whereas 95% because of the political, social, emotional drivers and barriers.

Based on this principle, in project management, we have to exercise or ‘listen’ to the both sides of the brain – i.e. Logic or hard skills (process – devising the plan, design performance metrics, keep steps on track etc) go hand-in-hand with and/or even complement/is complemented by soft skills (people. Especially when it is a cross-functional one) like fostering teamwork, tailoring communication to influence others, empathize (put oneself on other shoes), gather allies, persuasion – you name it.

Over time, the coachee / professional will develop the ability to ‘listen’ to the part of the brain he needs to use first (even if it is not the ‘preferred’ one) in different situations as well as when it is time to listen to both. This is what (I believe to be) some leaders may call as Contextual intelligence – the proficiency at adapting knowledge and skills (IQ and EQ) to different situations and environments to make informed decisions. Helping our talents unleash such ability will definitely place them ahead of the average professional who listens to the side of the brain he mostly uses.

What do you think? do you listen to both sides of your brain?

Thank you for reading my posts! Going forward, in the bottom of each post I will answer the four following questions (something I saw someone/blogger doing. Will give credit when I find it J):

What am I reading? The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson. This is a fascinating book by this great British educator. ‘The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.

What am I listening? Charles Bradley – ‘Where do we go from here’

What discussions am I having? How parents behavior and attitude can shape kids personality. If you want your kids to make you proud, give them good examples.

Questions I am asking myself? How far are we to have technology reducing workforce by half? How will it affect the world, global economy and the way we live?


Author: Domingos Silva Junior

Domingos Silva Jnr is Brazilian by birth and a shipping industry specialist with over 21 years of experience of international container shipping operations leading multicultural teams globally. Domingos encourages his teams for continuous improvement, teamwork and the ability to transform challenges into opportunities. His motto “If a problem is said to be difficult, my team would need a few hours. And if said to be impossible, three days would be sufficient to find a solution.” LinkedIn Profile:

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