Having Couragous Conversations

Confronting somebody at work about a missed deadline, unacceptable behaviour, a poor quality deliverable can sometimes feel like looking over the edge of a tall cliff. When was the last time you had a courageous conversation at work? Said something to somebody that needed to be said, but had held back for whatever reason?

If you done have regular “courageous conversations” in your role as a leader, then you’re not doing your job. Either that, or you work in the perfect office. More likely the former.

If you’re just starting as a manager / leader, or you’re looking for tips on having the courageous conversation, keep these points in mind:

  • Stay calm
    Nothing spreads faster than fear, uncertainty, and doubt (the “FUD Factor”). You can speak the truth. You don’t have to shout it. Be a demanding boss without being aggressive or insensitive.
    Also, nothing controls you like your emotions. Allowing others to push your buttons is like handing them the remote control to your brain. If you’re the boss, stay in control. You can’t control others if you can’t control yourself.
  • Focus on Behaviour
    Focus on the things you can see, hear, and touch. Not your feelings. Focus on body language, tone of voice, facial expression, work product, words used, observable facts. Not on attitude, drama, or assumptions.
  • It’s Their Problem
    Bosses are often problem solvers. That’s how you got promoted. Fair enough, but – you can’t solve everybody else’s problems. Let them figure out how to fix what they broke, how to change their behaviour, or how to deliver on time what you need.
    Besides, how are you going to get promoted if there’s nobody to take your place?
  • Follow Through
    This one goes to credibility. Do what you say you’re going to do. Or don’t say it. If you don’t understand why then do something else besides management and leadership.
  • Listen, and Practice
    The first time you give feedback to a subordinate you’re going to suck at it. Don’t worry, it gets better with practice. The greater sin is not coaching, mentoring, and developing your people. Never stop looking for and training your replacement. It’s one of those simple things that outstanding manager do well.

And remember that true leaders run towards a problem, not away from it.

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