The skill leads to better performance.
One could suggest, among the variety of definitions of leadership, that leadership is made up of a series of conversations with peers, managers, team members, customers and other stakeholders. With advanced conversation skills those interactions lead to greater innovation, better collaboration, smarter decisions, and more committed actions. Without these skills, leadership doesn’t happen.
A deep study found that employees spend an average 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict, which amounts to roughly $359 billion in workforce costs. Let’s talk about how you can reduce your costs, by helping your managers have compelling conversations.
In my 4 Ups! model (Bring it Up! Talk it Up! Wrap it Up! and Follow it Up!), I talk about having REAL conversations, the absence of which is one of the biggest obstacles to team performance and leadership effectiveness. When leaders struggle to address the REAL issues, REAL facts, and REAL feelings, they become an enormous liability impacting people and profit. In my blog post Say What? I share that managers, as great conversationalists, know how their personality impacts their ability to communicate well.
With personality in check, Bring it Up!
Why is starting a difficult conversation, the first of the 4 Ups, so challenging for some of your leaders? Many of your managers are very good at introducing topics into conversation at team meetings and with their employees. Even those tough or sensitive discussions seem to be easy for them to openly bring to the table in a respectful yet honest, crisp and concise way.
Some managers, however bring up topics in a blunt and perhaps abrasive way, and yet others fail to address issues all together for a variety of reasons. Several managers may have varying degrees in-between in the way they tackle conversations.
Successfully approaching uncomfortable conversations will lead to better performance, a positive impact in the team and organization as a whole. Help your leaders find the courage to start conversations in a constructive way by following these 4 Tips:
- Feel. Manage your own emotions, first. Before entering any conversation evaluate what you FEAR and reconcile that maybe your emotions are driven by False Expectations Appearing Real.
- What can you do to first challenge your own emotions?
- Rather than predicting a negative outcome, how can you approach the conversation with positivity?
- Think. Clarify your intent. No one likes to be confronted. Rather, most appreciate being helped. When you approach the conversation with a helpful mindset and an intent to serve, your success increases. Before the conversation, reflect on, “Why do you really need or want to have the conversation?”
- Act. Leverage your body. In the work of Amy Cuddy, she found that your body language shapes who you are and how others see you. Before you have the meeting, do some power poses. As you have the meeting, sit up straight, take a deep breath, and smile.
- Talk. Regulate your words. Use words that communicate curiosity rather than judgment. It is less helpful to approach with words like “aggressive,” or “not a team player,” and more helpful to use, “I heard you say…,” “which makes me feel/think …,” “and it impacts…,” “can we find a better way?” Write out and practice what words will best serve your intent.
Effective implementation of the 4Ups varies greatly from individual leader to individual leader. All four skills are necessary for Compelling Conversations, and it is up to your leaders to find their voice and inspire others to find theirs.