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Conversations drive change – fact

Since publication of The Language of Leaders, I have given dozens of talks to thousands of interested leaders. The thing that sparks their imagination the most is the idea that great leaders ensure that the right conversations are taking place right across their businesses. Great leaders understand it is conversations that drive change and ensure progress.

Doesn’t that make sense to you? Isn’t it through frank and full conversations that you have changed, hopefully for the better, the key relationships in your life? Why would that be any different at work? This is a key part of this book: leaders have to learn how to engage people in and through conversations.

The task of a leader is to inspire others to achieve great results. It sounds simple, but leaders today are operating in an incredibly demanding environment. The difference between competent communication and inspiring communication can be the difference between poor performance and outstanding results.

If you want to be a successful leader, you need to take charge of the conversations in your organization. Whether you like it or not, conversations are taking place every minute of every day among your teams, and many of these conversations are unproductive and aimless.

You need to shape and influence these conversations to ensure that they lead to a clear understanding of the vision, a clear understanding of what individuals are doing to achieve the vision, more engaged employees and more alignment throughout the organization. After that, you need more conversations to enable problem solving, feedback, ideas, innovation, action and continuous improvement.

As I said in the previous chapter, your vision framework must be shared if you want people to deliver it, and simply e-mailing it to them will not do the trick. You have to have conversations to ensure understanding, and you only achieve commitment if people are able to understand and talk about how they contribute to your goals through their local actions.

Effective leaders use conversations and the vision framework described in Chapter 5 to ensure that people truly do understand the True North of the organization, its purpose and values, its goals and strategic priorities, and the actions required to deliver success. These conversations give people the meaning and purpose they seek at work, because they help to create a ‘clear line of sight’ between the organization’s purpose and goals and the actions of the individual. This provides them with context, meaning, a sense of import, and a framework for their own decision making. Because of these conversations, employees can make the right choices and they don’t feel victims of change. Their commitment to those choices will make the difference between success and failure.

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