The Conversation

The Conversation:

It is time for you to have the conversation.

I know it is uncomfortable. Sure, they could read about it on the internet. Sure, you could read about it on the internet. Sure, someone else could do it.

You do know it is your responsibility, right?

Oh, I do not mean that conversation. You do need to talk to your sons and daughters but today, I am talking about The Leadership Conversation.

The Leadership Conversation is about how leaders in your organizations will work. What values are important in your organization? How leaders will achieve business results? How they will show respect to their stakeholders? How they will behave at work and beyond?

What, you have not had the leadership conversation with the leaders in your organization? Oh boy, you might want to sit down for this. The good news is you are not alone. Most organizational leaders do not have the conversation with their leadership. Why should they, everyone knows what it means to be a leader, right?

In my presentation, A Deep Dive into Leadership, I ask the participants to define what a leader is. Do you know, I have rarely gotten the same answer twice? In fact, I usually have to cut the conversation short because we cannot agree on what a leader is. If you check out the latest books, blog posts, podcasts, or websites, you will note that every one of them defines a leader a little bit different based on their perspective.

For organizations, leadership defines much in the way they operate; what values are important to the organization; how leaders treat people within the organization; what results leaders are expected to achieve; how the day to day works.

How we define leadership shapes the way we see our place in the world. If we see a leader as someone who influences other people, we tend to believe leaders will build relationships. If we see a leader as someone who directs other people, we tend to believe that leaders will give us the information we need to be successful. Neither approach is wrong, just different; but each perspective influences how we operate in our organization.

Making the necessary effort to discuss what a leader is in our organization, allows us to create a common understanding of leadership. This conversation does not have to be difficult and can simply be an exercise in one of your staff meetings or can be a facilitated conversation during an offsite.

The goal here is not to get a single answer of what a leader is in your organization, it is to create an understanding of how leaders will act in your organization. The best way to do this is through asking curious questions to your team and listening to their answers.

For Example:

  • What are our organizational values?
  • What leadership behaviors would you attribute to these values?
  • What role does leadership play in your organization?
  • How do you classify a leader in your organization?
  • What is the definition of a leader do we all agree upon?
  • How will leaders in our organization achieve the best results?

Working with organizations, I hear the phrases, “getting back to the basics,” and “getting on the same page,” expressed a lot. Why not start with defining what leadership means to your organization.

John Thalheimer is The Leadership Guide. He believes that every employee and every organization deserves a great leader. He works with leaders to help them achieve better business results through coaching. He is dual certified in coaching from the Marshal Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching Program and The Institue of Social & Emotional Intelligence. He has a master’s of Organizational Leadership and is working on his upcoming, The Manager’s Field Guide to Coaching: How to Improve Performance at Work.  


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