Monday, August 02, 2010

Leadership and Crucial Conversations

As noted earlier, leadership is mostly about communication. But communication is not just about message, medium , source and receiver. Communication is often about trust and relationship. But sometimes we have to communicate in not so comfortable situations. What do you do when you have to communicate negative feedback In an untrusting relationship?


Most of us can easily accept feedback that points out our weakness in skill or knowledge areas, but find it extremely difficult to take feedback about our own behaviour or attitudes. And sometimes even feedback about our weakness in skills or knowledge may become hot topic, if we believe that the person who is giving us feedback may want to harm our reputation.


We learn various techniques for communication, but often such techniques are based on an assumption that everything else is fine, there is no friction or negative bias.


Another point is about candidness in an organization or a group. Just calling for candidness does not work, it is important to ensure that people feel safe being candid.


I just finished a book about communication, and found it to be highly useful. The main theme is that when communicating make sure that you understand both levels of communication. One is about the message, and another is about the relationship among participants. In order for participants to share their views, they need to feel safe and in order to feel safe they need to have a trusting relationship. And the book explains how such a trusting relationship is created.


The book is titled Crucial Conversations and it is written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron Mcmillan, Al Switzler and Stephen R. Covey


Following description is from the book’s website:


If you feel stuck—in a relationship, in your career, at home—chances are a crucial conversation is keeping you there. This New York Times bestseller will help you handle crucial conversations—conversations that occur when the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions vary.


The book’s site also has lots of other resources, and one of them is a Style Under Stress™ Test.


This book should be a required reading for all the leaders.







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