Leadership Principles for Difficult Conversations

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Rhett Laubach's five principles on how to plan, approach and execute difficult conversations.

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Leadership Principles for Difficult Conversations

  1. 1. LEADERSHIPPRINCIPLESfor difficultconversations
  2. 2. DIFFICULCONVERSATIONST• Explaining why someone is not getting a promotion.• Confronting repeating unacceptable behavior.• Providing honest feedback on poor performance.• Respectfully challenging a colleague or customer.• Holding someone accountable for their output.• Sharing tough decision outcomes.• Delegating responsibility.• Discussing a taboo issue like hygiene or dress.• Thoughtfully saying no.• Addressing opportunities for improvement.• Explaining options in the face of adversity.
  3. 3. DIFFICUL Why don’t we do this?CONVERSATIONST• Explaining why someone is not getting a promotion.• Confronting repeating unacceptable behavior.• Providing honest feedback on poor performance.• Respectfully challenging a colleague or customer.• Holding someone accountable for their output.• Sharing tough decision outcomes.• Delegating responsibility.• Discussing a taboo issue like hygiene or dress.• Thoughtfully saying no.• Addressing opportunities for improvement.• Explaining options in the face of adversity.
  4. 4. Difficult ConversationsRequire Leadershipand leadership is hard.5 Principles of Leadership
  5. 5. PRINCIPLE #1 Others first. Self second.• Be committed to seeing the other person succeed.• Focus on the behavior or necessary changes.• Be focused on the conversation. Remove distractions.• Arrange for a private setting.
  6. 6. PRINCIPLE #2 Difficult is not an excuse to delay.• We can do more damage by not having the conversation.• The process might not be good, but the end result can be.
  7. 7. PRINCIPLE #3An adaptive approach is the only approach.Ask these questions beforehand: How will I be helping this person? Will telling them this make them better in the long run? Why am I delaying telling them this? If I was in their position, would I prefer to know? How will they react? How do I know? Will they accept advice from me?
  8. 8. PRINCIPLE #4Find the common ground. Build from there. Find something early on that you both can agree on. Get them saying yes. Be preemptive by fostering relationships.
  9. 9. PRINCIPLE #5Goals and values guide action. Be clear on the best possible outcome. Be specific with discussion items, needed changes, etc. Be clear on which organization value is driving the need.
  10. 10. LEADERSHIPPRINCIPLESfor difficultconversations

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