Another leadership lesson from the kids: Change the conversation

Our youngest, Sipho must have been about four years old at the time. He was duly strapped into the car seat in the rear of the car as was the norm and was on yet another endless ride with Mom about some or other business that couldn’t have been of much interest to a four year old.  He started the conversation with his usual bright, Conversation“Mommy…” only to be abruptly interrupted by a Mom who had clearly had enough. “You must stop starting every sentence with Mom or Mommy, Sipho” snapped a clearly frazzled Mother to her startled travel companion. I was later told that it wasn’t altogether uncommon for the young conversationalist to start his every (many a) sentence with a double barrel, “Mom, Mommy…” and this had obviously taken a heavy toll over multiple days and an endless stream of communication. There was silence in the car. The rebuke was obviously being analysed and processed while the Commander in Chief had a glimmer of rising optimism that the matter had been dealt with once and for all. The lengthy silence was finally broken with a, “will the Lady driving the car…”

Smart leaders understand the need to reframe, to change the conversation in order to help those around them see the situation differently.

It is not as easy or as obvious as it may sound yet it is an important leadership skill that can make a significant difference.

Leadership involves helping people make progress through the multiple adaptive challenges being faced. Finding new ways to see and tackle the problem becomes important within our organisations. Changing the conversation, by finding new ways to frame the challenge, can lead to amazing insights and results.

So what would be some of the conversations that you think could do with a fresh approach? How could a “would the lady driving the car” type reframing of the situation grab the attention and serve to reposition something that is tiresome, well worn and going nowhere? They could be conversations to do with how you see your future; how you view the competition or your industry; internal behaviour that needs addressing or some or other cultural or structural challenge that needs changing.

There must be several on-going internal conversations that could do with a switch from, “mom, mommy” to “will the lady driving the car” – why not be the one to change the conversation?

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