The tipping point between prolonged disappointment and renewed vitality is a difficult conversation.
Many leadership frustrations are the result of conversations that didn’t happen.
The choice to avoid difficult conversations often masquerades as kindness.
Are you worthy to lead tough conversations:
Any dullard can sling muck.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being low and 10 being high)…
- How deeply committed are you to the best interests of your team members?
- How trusting are your relationships? Apart from trust, positional authority, threat, and pressure are all you have. An open heart hinges on trust.
- How forward facing are you as a leader? Dabble in the past. Dance in the future. Adapt in the present.
- How much do you believe in them?
Any response less than 7 indicates you have work to do before the conversation.
7 ways to prepare for tough conversations, if you’re worthy:
- Make a list of their top five contributions.
- Make a list of their top three strengths.
- Anticipate friction in the form of resistance, distraction, excuses, blaming, or self-condemnation. Resistance is the pivotal moment in transformative conversations.
- Wait for the moment of opportunity that begins with, “I don’t know.” If they knew, they’d be doing it.
- Prepare for multiple conversations. Tough issues aren’t resolved with one conversation.
- Narrow focus. How many problems do you plan to bring up? The answer is one.
- Sleep on it. Tired leaders lose perspective.
5 questions to ask during tough conversations:
- How might we move toward partnership?
- What does success look like?
- Who is responsible for change?
- How will new behaviors be designed?
- How will we be accountable to each other?
Pierce the veil of disappointing behaviors and poor performance by practicing courageous transparency, kind candor, and forward-facing curiosity.
How might leaders prepare for tough conversations?