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    Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor
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    Good Conversations Lead to Trusted Relationships

    Leadership is influence. Leaders influence others to work together to accomplish shared goals. Effective communication is an operational means of influence. By sharing ideas, discussing concepts, and seeking common values to align around, leaders are able to utilize their influence to obtain mutually beneficial results.

    True leaders understand the value and influence that come from having strong connections to others through positive conversations. Good conversations lead to trusting relationships. Having a trusted relationship is critical to a leader’s ability to influence. Challenges that organizations face, and the obstacles to successful outcomes are frequently found – not in the technical environments – but in the social environments. The social environment is where the value of affirmative connections yields positive results.

    Conversations Create Connections

    Good conversations build and strengthen relationships just as destructive conversations can tear a relationship apart. Honest conversations can also show opportunities for development and improvement. These types of conversations require qualities of openness and trust from all participants. These interactions require high receptivity. That is, there is a need for participants to have a willingness to speak and listen, equally well. This is especially important for the leader to model these desirable behaviors first.

    A leader needs to develop trusted relationships with others – inside and outside the team. The leader should seek out such partnerships which will allow the strengths of others to complement their own. This requires that the leader is open and aware of their strengths and weaknesses. And the leaders must have developed quality relationships with others, who will be honest, open, and helpful in their feedback,

    Image result for relationships

    Leaders with these types of social connections will have an easier time providing truthful feedback to others, too. Having good conversations and creating trusting relationships will allow the leader insight into perspectives that others hold. People deserve to know what opinion the leader has of their effort. There should be no surprises arising during formal performance management conversations. By the time performance conversations take place both sides should have a good idea for what each other’s opinions already are.

    As a leader, it is much easier to help others find greater enjoyment and satisfaction from their own work when you have a good sense for what they do best. Knowing this allows leaders the opportunity to place people in a position that allows them to work in their strength zone. Besides getting good productivity, there is a satisfaction that comes from working well. And knowing what others may struggle with creates prospects to provide situations that will create opportunities to practice new skills, make mistakes, and broaden personal effectiveness.

    What It Takes

    What causes many well-intentioned leaders to fail with conversations is the time it takes, their inability to entertain another point of view, and the apparent disparity in viewpoints. As a result, there is greater tension in the relationship and less possibility for accomplishing mutual goals.

    People are complex. There is no cookie-cutter approach, no step-by-step process for creating alignment; no quick solution. Fast friends don’t happen fast. Relationships take time to develop and to build. But the result from solid social interactions is worth the time invested.

    Good conversations also require the flexibility of being open minded. That’s not wishy-washy. Rather, that is being able to be curious about another person’s point of view. It is the ability to try to understand the context that another person has. When a leader can be self-restrained enough to withhold judgement until all the facts are in it is quite common that common ground is found. It is critical to personal and professional relationships that we first find the common ground. From this common place we can safely begin to explore the areas of differences without destroying the relationship.

    7 Principles for Speaking

    The book Fierce Conversations [by Susan Scott] provide 7 principles for conversations. Fierce means real. Not being barbaric. Telling the truth and letting the truth be told. These principles provide some guidance for holding valuable conversations.

    1. Be courageous and check the facts.
    2. Choose to be authentic.
    3. Live in the moment, no, listening to and speaking to this person, now.
    4. Face your problems today, solve them and move on.
    5. Go with your gut instinct.
    6. Take responsibility, nothing you say is trivial.
    7. Shut up and let silence do its necessary work.

    Be a leader that takes the time required, maintains and open mind, and seeks common ground to work from. This approach will provide real conversations, build real relationships, and yield real results.

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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