Leadership Key: Impact Conversations

By Joy W. Goldman | Leadership Coaching

In the March, 2017 newsletter, I introduced the topic of trust and highlighted five ways leaders increase trust in their organizations. Today, I wanted to provide an overview of two very practical tools that can be used to engender trust in ALL relationships, regardless of how challenging you may find some to be:

Conversational Intelligence and Polarity Thinking

You can deepen your learning on Polarities during an upcoming Wiederhold & Associates webinar on Aug 1.

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August 1, 2017 - "Polarity Thinking"

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Judith Glaser in her book, Conversational Intelligence, asserts that ALL work is conducted through conversations. Think about it! Is there anything you do that does not involve a conversation? From a pure productivity perspective, think about the time you could save if most of your conversations were impactful.

During July’s webinar, Cliff Kayser and James McKenna, two phenomenal executive coaches, illustrated in their usual humorous way, one element of effective conversations: The power of leveraging Inquiry AND Advocacy: two critical leadership competencies. The May/June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review included an article that talked about four key attributes that distinguished high performing CEOs: the ability to be decisive was one of them. As a leader, “telling,” and “advocacy” is essential in certain circumstances.

The most powerful leaders know how to leverage advocacy AND inquiry, and they know when they’re being effective, and when they risk derailment. Signs of an overuse of advocacy may include noticing that they are doing most of the talking and others aren’t offering their opinions; leaders may notice that their audience seems less engaged. In the extreme, they may also notice that not too many people are following them!

Glaser’s levels I and II conversations consist of “telling,” or using questions that are geared toward eliciting what the leader already knows to be true. They are using inquiry but only with a goal to validate their own thinking. Glaser discusses the more powerful level III conversation that is focused on “Sharing And Discovery.” Level III conversations ask questions for which the leader doesn’t know the answer to the question.

    Sample discovery questions include:
  1. Sample discovery questions include:
  2. What matters most to you right now?
  3. To resolve this conflict successfully, what would need to occur for you?
  4. Tell me what I might not be seeing or understanding right now?
  5. If we couldn’t fail, what would we be doing right now?
  6. If we could better leverage Safety AND Risk, how might we better serve our customers/ community?

When leaders ask questions that come from a place of curiosity, we tap into our audience’s prefrontal cortex and quiet their amygdala, the primitive part of our brain, which kicks into high gear when we feel threatened. Creativity and trust come from our prefrontal cortex: through sharing and discovery conversations.

In healthcare, our habit is to look for problems. Simple problems often have a right or wrong answer. Complex problems/ situations rarely do and are better served by leveraging interdependent tensions or pairs: polarities. Come to the webinar in August to learn more about leveraging Inquiry AND Advocacy.

    In future newsletters, we’ll also explore other healthcare tensions like:
  • Mission AND Margin
  • Confidence AND Humility
  • Centralization AND Decentralization
  • Standardization AND Customization

I look forward to our next conversation!

Joy W. Goldman RN, MS, PCC, PDC
Executive Director, Leadership Coaching
Wiederhold & Associates

Connect with us on LinkedIn and join our Active Network Program.

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Can I Trust You?

In its 2016 global CEO survey, Price Waterhouse Coopers reported that fifty-five percent of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth.

Stephen M. R. Covey, in his book: “The Speed of Trust,” asserts, "The ability to establish, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders – customers, business partners, investors and coworkers – is the key leadership competency of the new, global economy."

Paul Zak, in the January/February 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review and the feature article: “The Neuroscience of Trust,” states that employees in high trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate with colleagues and stay with their employers longer than in low trust cultures. Regardless of industry, your job as a leader is to create a culture of trust.

In our work with clients, we coach them around the following five behaviors which are scientifically proven to promote trust:

  1. Model transparency and vulnerability: While it may seem ironic, there is great power in admitting when we’ve made mistakes. In healthcare, we strive to create just accountability cultures. The most powerful and impactful leaders are those who stand up in front of their organizations and tell stories about their mistakes and the critical learning from those mistakes.
  2. Leverage inquiry AND advocacy: Judith Glaser, in her book: “Conversational Intelligence,” describes three levels of conversation. All are necessary in certain circumstances, yet we tend to overuse the first two: telling, and trying to convert others to our perspective (levels I and II), and we underuse the last: transformational discussions (level III) with a mutual sharing of perspectives and an attitude of curiosity. This sharing stimulates our pre-frontal cortex which allows for our most creative thinking. “Imposing our perspective: telling behavior” can trigger another’s primitive brain (amygdala) and can result in fight, flight, or freeze reactions. Through coaching, one of my clients re-defined the 80/20 rule where it now means that she talks only twenty percent of the time and listens eighty percent of the time. The impact on her engaging with others, her talent selection success, and her ability to make strategic decisions has been powerful.
  3. Identify and honor your values: What do you stand for? As I coached a physician client, she discovered that her words and actions were not honoring what she said she held as most important. She was torn between caregiving needs for her aging mother and her work demands. Through coaching, she transformed her thinking from reactionary: worrying what others might think, to purpose-driven: honoring private time AND work responsibilities.
  4. Make it easy for others to provide you constructive feedback: the higher you go in organizations, the fewer people there are who feel comfortable providing you constructive feedback. My clients expect that I will offer observations of their behaviors and/or thinking that is interfering with their leadership effectiveness. One simple question you can ask on a routine basis is: “What can I do differently that would support my being a more impactful leader?” And then do it.
  5. Deliver on promises and do NOT promise anything you cannot deliver: Sometimes as leaders we believe we must respond immediately to a request. In doing so, we risk promising something that we later determine is less of a priority or can’t be done. Trust means following through with commitments.

While not always easy, leaders who are committed to creating a culture of trust will continue to be disciplined around these 5 behaviors- especially in hard situations. As employees become more emotionally engaged with leadership, productivity and retention will naturally increase.

Joy W. Goldman RN, MS, PCC, PDC
Executive Director, Leadership Coaching
Wiederhold & Associates

Connect with us on LinkedIn and join our Active Network Program.

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