Become A Better Leader By Having Better Conversations

Become A Better Leader By Having Better Conversations

Mandy Holloway

Executive Coach

16/07/2017

Become a better leader by remembering you are human and so are the people you lead.

A critical part of this human condition is our desire to feel:

  • significant
  • we belong
  • we make a difference.

Meet these basic tribal needs and people are engaged and creating better results for the team, organisation and family. Humans connect by engaging in conversations with others. Want to be a better leader? Get better at encouraging people in your team, business and family to engage in “real” conversations that create action.

Humans have conscious and unconscious needs to engage beyond the head; they need heart and soul connection. This necessarily brings emotion into the equation. Although many business leaders deny there is a place for emotion in business; all humans “feel” and interestingly feelings most regularly get in our way of being the best leader we can be. This is true at home too, lack of time for real conversations sees feelings go underground – until they boil over!

Use these FIVE practical insights when seeking to become a better leader at work and at home. Ask yourself – are you:

  • Reviewing the “signs” that prove you are being a better leader?
  • Acknowledging people want to feel significant?
  • Recognising the impact of “chaos and loneliness”?
  • Unleashing the courage to be REAL?
  • Answering the WHY questions: why become a better leader and why do better conversations achieve this?

Become A Better Leader at home and in your couple by engaging Better Conversations

1. The signs proving you are a better leader

Look for the critical signs demonstrating you ARE being a better leader – identify and measure them, at work and at home. At work, look for and measure:

  • Performance – achievement of KPIs expected by critical stakeholders
  • Engaged people – engagement scores (from surveys), culture surveys, productivity, retention, referrals of others into the business, people going above and beyond their defined job roles because they are intrinsically motivated
  • Agility – people are navigating changes with confidence, courage and speed.

At home use the same measures just in different ways:

  • Performance – achievement of “personal best” in the different frames for each individual in the family – academic outcomes, sporting outcomes, leisure time activity actual participation, balance of work/life for parents
  • Engaged people – family members going above and beyond what we have come to expect of each other – because everyone is intrinsically motivated
  • Agility – each family member is navigating the changes they face within their environment with confidence, courage and speed (even things as simple as a new teacher, new friendship group at school, start of a new sporting season.)

2. Significance

Be a better leader by identifying “what makes you feel significant”. Share this with the people you work with in a “heartfelt conversation” and ask them to share with you when they are ready. This is the kind of real and very human conversation that makes you a better leader.

Do the same at home – unravel a wealth of insight even from the youngest member – their insights could possibly inspire you to new ways of “being” with each other. For example: my 8 year old told me she felt good when she saw me being “happy”.

Be a leader with your kids and family giving significance to all of them.

3. Recognise the impact of chaos and loneliness

As we continue to experience VUCA we see people being thrust into chaos and experiencing increased loneliness at work. People bunker down to “survive”. As our children navigate changes being experienced daily, it leads to feelings of isolation.

In case you haven’t heard of VUCA – it’s an acronym coined by the US Army describing the current environment in which we work and live:

V = volatility

U = uncertainty

C = complexity

A = ambiguity.

Being a better leader personnally will improve your professional career as well.

To be a better leader you encourage people not just to survive but to “thrive”, to find ways to work in and through this chaos. Conversations to support people in this kind of chaos create human connection and result in more highly engaged people.

4. Being “real”

To be “real” in your conversations takes courage; the courage to be authentic and to share what you are really thinking and feeling. The courage to step into conversations where you don’t have the answers!

Being real is also about vulnerability – start conversations to explore this chaos and work at creating better context for the future, even though as the leader you don’t have the answers. Step away from control and the old adage of “knowledge is power” – the better leader plays in the truth where there is no protection, no pretending to know, no politics, no secrets just pure honesty, truth and vulnerability!

This is absolutely the case at home too – as parents it is important to show our vulnerability – after all let’s be honest we haven’t been a parent before and are learning as we go, aren’t we? And we especially haven’t been a parent of children who are exposed to such a rapidly changing world! So let’s start admitting when we get things wrong, when we make mistakes!

5. Why?

Answer your WHY questions to create your personal buy-in, your burning platform for change – why become a better leader at work and at home and why do better conversations achieve this?

Think about what is changing for you right now and then think about the leadership choices you make – are you:

  • Bringing the flexibility required?
  • Encouraging the “distribution of power” amongst others?
  • Being transparent enough so everyone feels valued, significant and purposeful?

VUCA means past experiences and wisdom are not always going to be relevant to the future. Human leaders are “better leaders” because they engage in real conversations creating better actions and deeper learning so people are more engaged and ready to thrive.