3 Must Have Conversation Skills

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What are the top 3 conversation skills for leaders?  Too often leaders engage in conversation in a very unintentional way.  It comes as no surprise then that these conversations do not lead to a positive outcome or with clear next steps.  I was on a call last week with a potential customer and re-learned some critical skills.

Susan Scott in her book Fierce Conversations would say that “relationships are built one conversation at a time”.  If leadership is built in the context of relationship, then a leader must be skilled at using each conversation effectively.  When leaders are derailed they either move against or move away from their people, leaving them devoid of quality relationships.

There are three critical conversation skills that each leader must posses:

1). Preparation: No conversation is passive, therefore preparation is critical to success.  Think about the desired outcome of each conversation prior to actually having the conversation.  It may help you to answer this question or statement: “What is the most important topic we need to cover today?” and “The issue we are covering impacts me / us in the following ways”

2) Listen: Too bad this word is overused, yet our ability to listen is hindered greatly by our cell phones, social media feeds and lack of real time conversation.  We are in a constant state of distractedness and anxiety. Leaders the greatest gift you can give you people is to just be present with them and show people how much you care about them as people.

3) Transparency:  This does not mean you disclose everything that is wrong with your life or you talk about your marital troubles.  Instead, share a statement like this, “This issue impacts me in that I am not feeling empowered as a leader.” or “When I heard the words, ‘We are losing customers’ I felt discouraged about my performance.”   Susan Scott would say a Fierce Conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves and tell the truth. (paraphrase)

Leaders relationships are the foundation of your leadership.  Relationships are forged through conversation.  Fierce Conversations allow us to come out from behind ourselves and get to the truth and move us toward a common vision or purpose.

What skills do you need to develop out of the 3 above?