Thursday, January 26, 2017

7 steps in leading big conversations

A big conversation is a conversation where the stakes are high, emotions run strong and opinions differ. Breakthroughs and transformations hinge on it. Leaders can play an active role to facilitate big conversations, both on individual and group settings. But here’s the tricky part. Leaders may become cautious to avoid honest, straight talks in order to prevent the conversations from turning unpleasant and the people involved getting defensive. The lack of courage to discuss the undiscussable often impeded the progress of most teams to reach where they have not been before. They get stuck in a never-ending cycle of mediocrity and false improvements. No breakthrough there. If you, as a leader don’t change the way you facilitate your team’s communication, you become an accomplice to the organization’s or individual’s defensive routines.

Common end goal >> set the tone. Let it be known that this conversation needs to happen as stakes are high. Focus on the common objective that everyone is striving for. Be very clear on the purpose, intentions and goals. Discuss the whats and more importantly, the whys.

Grant permission >> this is the basic ground rule. Create a safe forum that permits people to speak the truth, making it known that no one needs to be offensive or defensive about anything. Let it be okay for everyone to be their real self.

Take ownership >> make sure that everyone involved in the conversation has something personally at stake in the goal. Everyone has to take responsibility for what he or she says.

Don’t pretend >> let people say things as they really are. Don’t pretend things are fine when they aren’t. Don’t smoothen any rough edges as they are useful information to deal with the challenges.

Bigger picture >> this is an invitation for everyone to play a bigger game and see the greater cause, the bigger picture. Context matters. It’s not just about you or me.

Discuss the Hows >> don’t just state the whats and the whys but discuss the hows – specifically how the team thinks and interacts. Throw out some thought-provoking questions. Gather divergent views and perspectives to build a shared understanding and a new workable model to move forward.

Ready to act >> make sure people leave the conversation feeling ready to take action.

No comments: