Coaching Conversations

Critical Leadership Skill: Conversational Navigation Excellence

August 09, 2021 Tim Hagen
Coaching Conversations
Critical Leadership Skill: Conversational Navigation Excellence
Show Notes Transcript

This episode teaches some fundamental conversational models that help with typical day to day leadership challenges that require Conversational Navigation Excellence.

Checkout our Why Leadership Conversations Matter:

* We provide four 1 on 1 sessions practicing conversation models that lead to greater engagement and team cooperation. 

We're starting to see more and more in the marketplace, information on what we call conversational navigation or conversational intelligence. I think about a leader today and everything he or she must do to navigate conversations from the millennial who wants to get promoted in they started last Tuesday, or somebody who feels stalled in their career but doesn't know where to go and you have to have a career based coaching conversation, or maybe the person who's a veteran who has been passed over a couple times for promotions and now is disgruntled and undermining the team. All of these require conversations. And the reason they require conversations is, it'd be great to just go up to somebody and say, You're not ready for the promotion. Don't let that affect how you feel, and going up to the veteran who's been passed over and saying, Get over it, and they actually get over it. If it were only that easy. 

See, the framework of a good conversation is as follows. We ask questions, we listen, we demonstrate listening. By actively listening, illustrated by paraphrasing and stating back to somebody what they said. That's a trust builder, Not always offering solutions but occasionally offering advice and insight and maintaining emotional intelligence, see when a millennial comes up to you. Let's go back to our first example, and they say, you know, I saw this job and I really feel like I'm ready. And I want to get promoted. And the leader rolls their eyes and leans back and starts laughing and said he just started four months ago. At that moment, we have run the risk of destroying that employee. Now, if you're listening to this, you might be thinking well I wouldn't react that way. We are creatures of habit. We give off reactions non verbally, here's the amazing thing. When that happens, when that happens. We have an impact and the people we're conversing with. Now, if we just simply say you're not ready. And we walk away because we have another meeting. We've created an impact on the other hand we might embrace that and say, Wow, that's awesome that you feel that good at this stage so early in the game that you feel like you're ready. I want to become your biggest supporter, and before I do that I want to make sure that you're 100% Ready. So where do you feel like you're at now. What are your strengths, what are your opportunities to improve and describe for me exactly your understanding that that job, and Bob who will be doing the interviewing. Now the minute, and typically 99% of the time, they're not ready to answer those questions, we can say you know it's interesting, I love your enthusiasm. I'm wondering, what will happen if you go into that interview unprepared because Bob's a stickler. And if you are not prepared. He'll come after you. Hearing that what do you think we should do. That's a good conversation. For someone who's not ready for a promotion. 

Now, let's say we have a veteran who got passed over and they're disgruntled and they're undermining the team and we sit down and on one hand one manager would say hey look, your attitude stinks, you got to cut it out you got to get over it, you got to move on. Do we really think by telling someone who's upset to get over it and move on, they're gonna say, You know what, you're right. Probably my attitude just stinks. No, they're gonna dig their heels in. So one of the things that you can do is have a conversation around walking into the wall without pushing them. So I might sit down with this person that's okay, Bob, I get how you feel. I understand you feel like you've been passed over. Now I'm gonna ask you a question. And I'd like your permission to have a conversation that's really aggressive. I don't want to say that you're wrong for the way you're feeling I acknowledge how you're feeling. Yet, I want you to be honest with yourself, Would you be okay if I asked you a series of questions. Bob says Well sure. Honestly, specifically. Why do you think you were passed over.
Now if he leads with the motion you might take, Bob calmly walk me through your understanding of why you were passed over, and how you went about learning that because I actually don't know why you were passed over someone else got the job whether fair or unfair, and the way you're reacting. Have you given thought that that might be supporting their decision. The way you're interacting with your teammates now that that might be supporting that decision, and maybe what we could do to turn things around. To move in the right direction so when the next promotion comes up, I will be your biggest advocate hearing that, what do you think we need to do together going forward. 

Now again, these are just conversation sound bites conversation skills require practice, and know how, but not literal interpretation. I cannot tell you after 26 years of teaching or program progress coaching, where I've had people come up and say you know I used your questions, that guy still has a really crappy attitude. This isn't about fixing people. Coaching is about holding up a mirror, hopefully getting people to open their eyes to look in the mirror. And then number two to take action and what they see. 

So here's another conversational framework for you called dovetailing. So if we have someone who's lacking time management, what do we tend to do, we sit down and go Laura your time management is lacking, you've got to manage your time better yet. What if we created momentum in the conversation, such as Laura, you know, one of the things I love about working with you, actually a couple things one, you know our products and services. You're an incredible teammate. You really know our procedures and our systems, and that but, and I think about adding time management to those list of strengths. How do you think we would go about doing that. Where do you feel like you have strengths and where do you feel like you have opportunities as it relates to time management. Would you mind if I created a prospective of where I think your time management could really be elevated to become one of those strengths we alluded to before, so think about it, which one of those scenarios would you react to, or favorably. 

So, conversational excellence, navigation, intelligence, isn't always knowing verbatim what to say, yet having a framework of having a conversation that gets someone to look in the mirror, comfortably and takes action on what they see. It requires us to know, questions, how to build motivation within the conversation by leveraging strengths to create that momentum that gets them to move in the direction of holding up the mirror. But if we just hold up that mirror and say, I got to tell you something, Gary your attitude sucks. Here is that not gonna come around the desk and say, Thank you so much for the revelation Can I hug and kiss you. Now my Irish humor and sarcasm probably doesn't help, yet we tend to think we want to fix people. And so often when we're practicing with our clients. I'll have a client say, what if they say this, what if they say this, what if they say this. Those are great questions, they'll look at me amazing, because what they're asking for is, what's the right answer. There is no right answer, we're dealing with people, your job as a coach is to give perspective to give thought to get them thinking differently, so they take action to move forward positively. Sometimes it's one sometimes it's 10 conversations, it depends on the person.