Monday, 6 May 2019

Grasping the nettle - authentic, purposeful conversations

If you're a senior leader and you've not yet read Susan Scott's book 'Fierce Conversations', I encourage you to do so. The book is a stirring call to action:
Think about it. What are the conversations you've been unable or unwilling to have ... that if you were able to have would change everything?
She lays out some guidelines for dealing with the difficult people-problems that inevitably arise in our daily work. Don't chicken out, confront the issue and - in sixty seconds if possible - at the start of the meeting:

  1. Name the issue
  2. Select a specific example of the behaviour or situation that you want to change
  3. Describe your emotions about the issue
  4. Clarify what is at stake
  5. Identify your own contribution to the problem
  6. Indicate your wish to resolve the issue
  7. Invite your interlocutor to respond

Other takeaways I got from the book were:
For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you may not even remember saying may have a devastating impact o someone looking to you for guidance and approval.
When the need arises, be prepared to say something like:
I am not happy with you right now.  In fact, I'm deeply angry and my intentions are less than noble, so how about having this conversation later.
Far better that than an explosion or, worse, tight-lipped silence.

Instead of saying:
You don't know what you're talking about.
Try saying:
I have a different perspective.
Try to get yourself into a place in your professional and personal life where you can say, with conviction:
I am in the right place, with the people I love, doing the right work on purpose.
Decisions and delegation within an organisation can be helpfully viewed as elements of a tree. This image shows how: