Conversations are crucial to leadership because leadership entails the co-creation of a meaningful engagement. Leaders depend on the people they lead and without an on-going dialogue, there is no engagement.
What do I mean by leadership conversation? It’s a conversation that facilitates learning. It gives people the opportunity with different views and ideas to understand each other better.
Leadership conversation allows people to learn from each other.
There is nothing technical or mysterious about having those leadership conversations. It simply requires the initiative to be curious and interested in other people. These conversations when they happen on a mutual understanding, it flows to provide insights into other people’s lives.
We begin to discover other people’s stories.
Leaders are ready to explore other people’s stories, other ways of seeing things, other experiences.
Theodore Zeldin in his book about Conversations describes it this way, “Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.”
Leadership conversation is also a process of self-discovery-where both leaders and followers will be touched. Something inspires them. Their relationship opens forward in a positive way. It involves a balance between pushing onward toward a goal and willing to stay open and curious.
It requires the leader to really listen to other ideas about how to get there, even including whether it’s the right goal to pursue at this time.
Leaders can do several things to launch a genuine conversation?
Instead of making assertions or assumptions, leaders explore what other think with open-ended questions. Asking questions can minimize assumptions and try to probe in a constructive way the perspective of another person.
Being honest does not mean that leaders are rude. Great leaders know how to use candor and respect in their honest communication with people. Leaders create trust better when they are not concerned about being popular but communicating with people what they need to hear instead of what someone might want to hear.
Ask for help
Leaders invite people to help them. They are not ego driven and positional. They are willing to say: “I don’t know, “I need help,” and “I was wrong.”
Build on the input from others
Leaders have a responsibility to really listen carefully to the people they lead. Winston Churchill remarked once that, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
If you want to build a culture of conversations, you must include meaningful stories as part of your leadership. When leaders share stories, they invite people to share their own experiences instead of creating a debate and a hostile environment. People can relate better to a story.
Leaders don’t have to share their own stories. Encourage others to share their own. It gives people the opportunity to self- discover their own creative power.
Through the exchange of stories everyone gains insight on what is going on and what is possible to achieve together.