Want to Be a Rock Star?

Good brand managers get promoted. When you do, you’ll be responsible for ensuring others get their work done. So you’ll need to know how to get the most out of your conversations with your team—which isn’t always easy.

But I can help. A while back I developed a four-step model for conducting effective leadership conversations. I’ve used it with several Big Pharma company leaders—and my MBA students say that it is one of the most helpful parts of my Managing Human Capital course.

All effective leadership conversations can be broken into four steps: 1) Opening; 2) Information Sharing; 3) Decision; 4) Closing.  No matter what type of conversation you have, you’ll need to cover each of these steps. Learn and master these steps and you’ll be able to apply this model to any leadership conversation. Let’s take a look
in some detail.

1. Opening

First, lay the groundwork for your conversation. Tell the other person why you want to have the conversation and why it is important.

2. Information Sharing

Asking questions is the best way to get at all of the information pertaining to the subject under discussion. Ask for the other person’s thoughts. Listen attentively. Ask additional questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. Paraphrase back to ensure that person knows you understand. Then, add your thoughts. It’s important to let the other person go first. That’s why questions are so powerful. You let the other person take the lead in getting all of the information on the table. End by reviewing and summarizing the discussion.

3. Decision

Begin by again asking questions. Ask for ideas on how to proceed. Listen, ask questions for clarification and paraphrase. Look for suggestions you can adopt, even just the glimmer of an idea. Build on his/her suggestions. You want it to be understood that you are trying to use the suggestions. Finally, add ideas of your own and jointly decide on a course of action. Use his/her ideas wherever you can. Once you are in agreement on how you will proceed, determine and assign responsibilities. Be clear on what you will do and what you are expecting of the other individual.

4. Closing

Just as it’s important to begin on a positive note, it’s also important to end that way.  Summarize the conversation and the agreements you reached. Set a follow-up date to review progress. A firm follow-up date indicates that you are serious about the topic of the conversation. Finally, express your confidence in the other person’s ability to handle the situation you’ve discussed.

Leadership conversations can be difficult—especially for new leaders. But if you learn and apply these tips, you’ll approach every leadership conversation with the confidence necessary to be successful. I have developed a booklet detailing how to apply these tips to a number of leadership conversations. Send me an email with the words “Effective Leadership Conversations PM360” in the subject line and I’ll send you a copy.

  • Bud Bilanich

    Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy, is a success coach, motivational speaker, author and blogger. He is a faculty member at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver where he teaches courses in Organizational Dynamics and Human Capital Management. Bud has written five books on career and life success, which are the basis of his Common Sense Success System.


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