Posts Tagged ‘courageous conversations’

Leadership Nuggets: Acknowledge the Truth


Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth! – Buddha

Have you had a time when someone – be it a colleague, direct report, supplier or friend who was not quite performing or was behaving in ways that was below par?

And yet you found yourself minimizing, negating or making excuses for their behaviour? You would not be the only one! I too have done this on many occasions, much to my own detriment.

Why?

Well – we do this for a number of “good” reasons because seeing, acknowledging and taking action on the truth, as we experience it, isn’t always comfortable.

Let me give you a work example.

Leader denial and lack of accountability

Some years back, I coached a senior executive whose direct report was very good at ‘hitting the targets’ but his modus operandi left a lot to be desired.

The feedback and “air-waves” from his team and others consistently was that the he was a bully.

Teamwork, collaboration, empathy, ‘developmental conversations’ did not figure in this person’s language.

What was present was manipulation, veiled and not so veiled threats, pressure tactics and even down right lying when it suited the direct report, which was often

Despite leading a dysfunctional team with lots of turnover and staff rotation, my coachee – his boss – would not fully acknowledge the situation.

Why was this, you may ask?

(more…)

10 winning steps to having a courageous conversation

Feedback manager and direct reportDo you have a difficult conversation “waiting in the wings” to be had with a colleague, direct report, manager,  spouse, friend and or family member?  Are you finding that merely thinking about this is activating a whole host of feelings, thoughts and reactions?

Common reactions include,  “ I don’t want to rock the boat”, “What if it comes out all wrong?”, and or  “What if it affects our relationship for the worse?”

What reactions come up for you?

Deep down you know all is not well because you are thinking about the particular issue over and over again.

“Maybe I could say this”, or “Last time that happened, I should have said ….”

And while you may be expending a lot of time and energy running through the various scenarios in your head, that is as far as you go!

The mental pre-occupation is in itself a good indicator that some action is called for.   As a wise person has said, “Whatever you resist, persists.” 

If we don’t have the conversations we need to, we can be sure that the relationship over time, will diminish as we withdraw, give up, remain falsely polite or things blow up unexpectedly at the most inopportune moment.  And then it is a major.

It is only through having a courageous conversation that we learn about the elasticity, bounce and depth of the relationship.

So you may be wondering, where do I begin?

In the words of Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations “While no one conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of your career or life, any single conversation can.”  

You have more chances of a successful conversation if you put in some thought and consideration beforehand. Planning is a key part of this preparation.

A courageous conversation begins way before you actually have that conversation. 

Here are 10 steps that will help you with this process.   (more…)

Leadership Courage – What does it mean to you?

dare to dreamWhat does the word courage mean to you?  The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines courage as – “the ability to disregard fear; bravery.   Having the courage of one’s convictions and acting on one’s beliefs.”  Over the centuries, courage has been regarded as a core virtue which then enables other virtues such as truthfulness, responsibility, integrity, authenticity, accountability and persistence. I rather love Ernest Hemingway’s famous definition of courage as “grace under pressure.”

Being in a leadership role, one is constantly in a fish bowl. A leader is being constantly watched for everything she does, how well she does this along with what she does not say or do.  The current business and economic VUCA context calls for even greater leadership courage, resilience, agility, nimbleness and innovation.    Managers and leaders courage gets tested every day.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
–  Ambrose Redmoon.

For the purpose of this blog, I have broken down courage into three levels where a leader’s courage is called upon.  As you read these, note where you show more courage along with what is more challenging for you and why?  (more…)

What stops you having that courageous conversation?

women in meeting

Whether you are in a leadership role or not, from time to time we all have to gear up and have those courageous conversations – the ones that we tend to avoid.  And therein lies the trouble.  The more we avoid these, the bigger the issue gets or the more it festers. As one senior leader put it, “if something isn’t feeling right, nine times out of ten, it isn’t!”  And this means some conversation needs to take place –whatever the scenario and whoever your situation is with. 

We all have different “brakes’ that we put on. This stops us from tackling what needs to be tackled.  Some examples of thinking that get in the way include – “I will destroy the existing harmony” (what harmony?  The current “walk on egg-shells” variety? ) or “if I ignore it, it will just go away” (with denial, the issue rarely just disappears) or genuinely not having the skills or confidence to deal with it ( These can be learnt).  (more…)

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