An Energizing Conversation any Manager can Lead

The energy of conversation points to the relevance of the topic.

There’s no guarantee of follow-through, but if heads nod around the table, follow-through will be like pulling teeth.

Step #1: Discuss, in a team meeting, the behaviors of the worst manager you ever had.

No names allowed. You cannot think of someone who is currently in the room.

Explain specific behaviors. Don’t say, “The worst manager I ever had was mean.” You can say, “The worst manager I ever had constantly interrupted people.”

Have fun making a long list. Record items on the white board. Expand on other people’s contribution. “Yes, and….”

Illustrate negative behaviors during the discussion. If you had a lousy manager who was always unhappy, put a nasty frown on while you talk. Better yet, when one of your colleagues brings up interrupting, interrupt them.

Explain the effects of negative manager-behaviors on you personally. “I felt like… , when my manager yelled at the team.”

Step #2: Choose one, and only one, negative quality you never want to practice based on the long list of negative leader qualities.

“I never want to bark orders because….”

“I never want to ambush someone with negative feedback because….”

Step #3: Identify and adopt one specific positive behavior you will practice everyday until your next meeting.

“I commit to letting people know I value them by holding my head up and smiling when I meet them in the hall.”

“I commit to extending support by asking, “How can I help?” at the end of every work-related conversation. (Doug Conant)

“I commit to challenging people by exploring how we might take our projects to the next level.”

Step #4: Debrief at your next meeting.

  1. What did you do?
  2. How did it work?
  3. What did you learn?
  4. What will you do next week?

What might you add to this learning activity to make it more effective?

What might derail this learning conversation?