Impactful leaders are empathetic and strive to understand the perspectives of those in their charge. Leadership couldn’t exist without conversations. Conversational Leaders communicate with people in ways that move them towards common goals. A true leader leverages the power of conversation to inspire, support, discover and enable teams. Through focused intentional conversations, every leader can create a new common growth-based mindset enabling creative thinking, innovation and continuous self-improvement.
Think about your last several conversations. Did you start by creating a space where people felt comfortable sharing what's truly on their hearts and minds? Or, did you quickly exchange pleasantries and jump straight into your agenda?
In a recent virtual leadership development session with a group of clients, we started the meeting by simply asking "how are you doing?" Each person shared what was going on that felt important to them and how they were feeling about it. We opened up the space to move beyond the obligatory "how are you?" and the standard response of "fine, thanks, how are you?" and intentionally slowed down the conversation to create safe space for learning and connection.
The provocation is less important than the way you, as the meeting leader, listen for understanding and acknowledge each person with a respectful response. There are other questions that will help initiate this intentional space. If "how are you" doesn't spark the conversation, try one of these provocations:
What's going really well for you?
What are you most proud of?
What has surprised you recently?
What are you learning right now?
What would make this day really great for you?
What is something you are looking forward to?