Conversations are at the core of good leadership and how/what a leader communicates reveals the personality of the leader.
A few years back, I was facilitating a discussion between the project leaders. The goal was to identify the opportunities for improvement in processes. Within first few minutes I knew that the conversation there was not going in the right direction. Most participants, who were leading projects, only talked about their war stories and problems they faced so far. The were too focused on symptoms and effects of a problem, but not enough on the root cause.
It took me some effort to get them to focus on solutions. But I learned a couple of things:
Effective leaders maintain a positive outlook. Sure, there are problems that need to be tackled head on. Negative discussion about the problem should only be limited till the problem is defined. Once a problem (i.e. root cause) is known, there is no point in singing about the problem on and on. Focusing on solution helps leaders maintain a positive outlook.
Effective leaders focus on the end. The purpose should constantly occupy the mind space of a leader. All ‘activities done’ and ‘problems solved’ during the project are means to an end. But sometimes, leaders get so engrossed in the means, that sight of the end is lost. People who meet the objectives are the ones who constantly keep those objectives in front of them.
Effective leaders are intentional in their conversations. They know the impact of each word they speak. They are conscious about the messages (implicit and explicit) they deliver through their conversations.
I read this on Twitter recently – conversations are the currency of leadership. Here are a few questions every leader should ask themselves when in a conversation:
How is this conversation helping me drive the desired performance/results from people in my team?
How effectively does this conversation transfer the knowledge required to perform?
How is this conversation strengthening the alignment of people to the goal, and helping me build relationship?
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P.S: Blogging was slow in first half of December – a month to slow down and retrospect, to think about all that happened in last one year, to be grateful about new connections, new opportunities and new insights through this blog. Stay tuned for more posts and round-ups coming up in the last two weeks of December, as we prepare to say Good Bye to 2010!
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Have a GREAT start into the week!