With all the demands that are placed on leaders in today’s World of Work, most are still struggling to cope with the complexity and change impacting their business, managing their own career and health as well as balancing their family life all at the same time. Then, typically when all the above are threatening to boil over, they are approached by their direct reports for guidance and support with their career, development, team conflict, people issues, low energy levels, influencing others in a matrix structure and other complex issues.
Are you and your leaders fit and prepared for these conversations?
These ad hoc but inevitable (and usually perfectly badly and/or inconveniently timed) conversations provide leaders with a unique opportunity to inspire, engage and develop their people and team. When people approach their leader to ask for help or advice, they are receptive and are listening. In a world where we are juggling our many responsibilities and focused on managing our ever-growing inbox, these moments are rare and valuable and they must be grabbed at and taken full advantage of. The opportunity costs of a poor conversation have become significant given the high costs of attracting and retaining talent.
Peter Block in his work on Community speaks of using conversations to build and empower the community. Given the low levels of worker engagement, Leaders need to use the rare moments of receptivity to build and strengthen their community. Millenials in particular require, and in fact demand, feedback and want to converse openly and honestly with their leaders.
Could conversation skills develop an employer brand? Or perhaps even become a competitive advantage?
We say an athlete is fit when they are able to run the required distance at an expected pace. Fit is also defined as being of a suitable quality, standard or type to meet required purpose.
A leader is conversation fit when they are able to hold quality conversations in amongst their normal tasks and responsibilities. A leader with a high level of maturity on the leadership maturity framework is conversation fit.
Being conversation fit implies
- being able to listen for the important points and remove the noise
- knowing when to give advice and when to lead with questions
- knowing when to stretch and when to protect
- being well practiced and ready at any given moment for these conversations
Leaders know that these conversations rarely happen at a good time. Maybe on the plane home after intense client meetings, your junior sitting next to you decides to open up and discuss his hopes and dreams for the future. Or when driving back from a exhausting presentation and you are with your junior in the heavy traffic. Or possibly the worst of all is when you are just as you are about to leave the office on a Friday to surprise your family by getting home early. In these moments you need to be conversation fit and well practiced to make good use of the opportunity.
We say a person is prepared when they have what they may need in advance.
Leaders require the knowledge, strategy and tools that are easily accessible and usable for these conversations. Leaders lack time to prepare for these mentoring type conversations.
Leaders want to capture the hearts and minds of those that follow and thereby build a strong and engaged community. Conversation is the excellent tool for this purpose. The opportunity costs of poor conversations are too high to be left to chance.
With the above in mind, Potential At Work has created Leader Fit, an intervention designed to support leaders to always be fit and prepared for the inevitable conversations. Your leaders will be taught all the principles of how to hold these conversations and just as importantly they will have practice sessions in order to fine tune their skills so that they may take full advantage of these wonderful motivating and inspiring conversational opportunities.
Contact the TomorrowToday team to implement Leader Fit with your team