Leadership Conversations Program
Leadership is a relationship according to management gurus Kouzes and Posner. When I first read this, it made perfect sense to me. But it raised a question in my mind: How do you develop this relationship? And the answer in my head was: through conversation; one conversation at a time. I don’t mean idle chit-chat or a personal conversation. On the other hand, I am not referring to a task-specific conversation either.
Relationships are built one conversation at a time. There is no other way, when you think about it.
Kouzes and Posner were not referring to a personal relationship either. We are taking about a good sturdy working relationship. Leadership conversations program are therefore an important process. Because without a good working relationship, there’s not trust. And without trust nothing meaningful can be achieved in the workplace.
Broadly, there are two types of important conversations that go on in all workplaces: task-focused and people-focused. I would estimate that 80 per cent of the conversations that occur in the workplace are task-focused. Task-focused conversations are related to specific tasks, projects, and activities.
They have to do with the work organizations do. They could be briefings, debriefings, trouble-shooting, clarification, and so on. These conversations are essential to the smooth running of any enterprise.
People-focused conversations are to do with the development and performance of people. They have to do with the person rather than the work. These people-focused conversations fall into two categories: development and performance. Although somewhat related, they have a different emphasis.
Development conversations are designed to build skill and understanding. Performance conversations are about appraising performance and using people’s talents in the best possible way.
Development conversations are to do with improving the skills, knowledge and attitude of people. They may include the following types of conversations: coaching conversation; delegation conversation; visioning conversation; encouraging conversation; and relationship building conversation. The focus of each of these conversations is on the person rather than the work that needs to be done.
Performance conversations are to do with appraising and improving the performance of people. Here are five performance conversations: climate review conversation; strengths and talents conversation; opportunities for growth conversation; learning and development conversation; and innovation and continuous improvement conversation.
These 10 conversations, comprising development and performance conversations, make up what I refer to as leadership conversations program. They account for approximately 20 per cent of the conversations that take place in the typical workplace.
I would like to suggest that more then 20 per cent of conversations leaders have should be leadership conversations or people-focused conversations. Why? Because they are highly effective when they are done correctly.
Leadership Conversations Training
WINNERS-at-WORK has a leadership conversations training program to assist managers to learn how to have more effective (and more frequent) leadership conversations. The program is highly interactive and devotes a significant amount of time to practicing these 10 leadership conversations mentioned above.
Leadership Conversations Training Program have many benefits that impact the bottom-line.
Here are some of those benefits:
- Enhanced trust, which translates to higher performance.
- More clarity, which means less mistakes and rework.
- Open communication, which translates to higher morale and trust.
- Clearer vision of the result of the work people do, which means more energy and purpose.
- Identifying and utilising people’s strengths at work, which means better results with the least amount of effort.
- More exchange of innovative ideas, and this means more overall efficiency and effectiveness.
By rebalancing the emphasis on people rather than the work they do, you exponentially get greater results. Retention of talent is one of the by-products of this approach.
Leadership conversations training helps to get leaders thinking about these issues, builds their skills-set in leadership conversations and increases their confidence in having these types of people-focused conversations with the people they lead.
We are not suggesting that task-conversations aren’t important; they are. But if leadership conversations are not taking place, the task-focused conversations become more challenging. Leadership conversations training is the first step in changing the culture of an organization.
All great leaders understand that leadership is about getting the best from the people who they work with. And the way to do this is one conversation at a time, with the focus squarely on the people rather than the task.