Friday, December 7, 2012
As leadership expert Geoff Aigner found in his own research, the biggest road block managers and leaders (but anyone alive, really) must overcome is their reluctance to engage in tough conversations, usually for fear of being unkind. There is a common mistake at work here: confusing compassion with kindness. Leaders who truly care about the development and growth of their employees are able to push through the awkwardness, and tell it straight. Just like parents who really care about their children, adult children who care about their aging parents, friends who care about their friends… the list goes on, beyond the workplace.
Tough conversations can be and usually are the most valuable conversations we have. If you throw caring, courage, and candor in the mix, you will be able to provide people with information and perspectives that others might have too, but are unwilling to share. Tough conversations help us decrease our blind spots. Tough conversations force us to move away from self-distortion and ego-saving defense mechanisms. Tough conversations, if held well, decrease the need for cover-up practices. Tough conversations are tough in the here-and-now and become some of the strongest bonds between people.
What are you afraid of? What is holding you back? What skills do you need to strengthen in order to start tough conversations? Why not start now? Mistakes are okay. These types of mistakes aren’t fatal, you know.