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Connecting the good with the bad

One well timed conversation can change a person’s life.

Last night I had a conversation with a young leader hungry to have an impact. Here’s a way you can approach these critical conversations.

Get clarity on their desire to lead. You can ask, “Do you see yourself filling leadership roles in our organization?” When they respond, “Yes,” affirm their desire.

Explore their strengths and weaknesses. The second question is crucial. I suggest you ask two questions at once. “What behaviors and qualities will enhance your leadership and what qualities and behaviors will hinder your success?” I like asking both questions at once because everyone knows the negative question follows the positive.

Affirm their positive qualities and behaviors by explaining their practical benefit and positive potential.

How to transition to the negative without being a downer?

Use their positive qualities as a foundation to discuss behaviors that need improvement. For example, the person I chatted with last night indicated they were goal oriented. I opened the “you need improvement” part of the conversation by saying, “A goal oriented person may walk on others, is that true of you?” Without hesitation, they responded, “Yes.” Now you can begin crafting strategies that strengthen their weaknesses.

You can say, “You’ll go further if you …”

Leadership development includes enhancing strengths and strengthening weaknesses. Connecting strengths with weakness creates an affirming environment that lowers defensiveness and maximizes success.

An added leadership development resource:

Since publishing, “Influence Over a Cup of Coffee,” I’ve encountered  K. Scott Derrick. He coined the expression, “Flash Mentoring.” If you’re committed to develop leaders, I believe you’ll benefit from visiting the Flash Mentoring website.


What strategies and techniques to you use in your leadership development activities?

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