Recently, I taught a class on how extraordinary conversations change your life – both professional and personal. As a Senior Fellow at The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (CEPL), I was asked to substitute for faculty member Joan Wangler who I greatly respect. To prepare for this all-day session I read the book Missing Conversations: 9 Questions All Leaders Should Ask Themselves (authors: Bridgette Theurer and Heather O’Neill Jelks). For years I’ve been teaching leaders how to have collaborative conversations, much of it based on my own book and research, but I had not given much thought to the conversations leaders need to have with themselves. This book is loaded with questions that enable us to dig deep inside to look at our unique strengths, the triggers that trip us up, how we use our time and energy, and how to be an authentic, fulfilled and successful leader.
Here’s a few Missing Conversations those attending the GW program found extremely helpful. Ask yourself these questions, and take time to talk to yourself about the answers. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself which will make you an even better leader.
1. The “Who Am I?” Conversation — Grade your leadership ability by focusing on your strengths (not your weaknesses) and acknowledging the impact your strengths have on people and the organization. Consider other ways you can use your talents and strengths?
2. The “What Impact Do I Want to Have” Conversation — How do you want people to feel in your presence? Appreciated, optimistic, fulfilled, heard, etc.? How do you want your team, your peers and your organization to be better due to your leadership strengths?
3. The “What Triggers You to React Negatively?” Conversation — Recall recent times your emotions and reactions were hijacked and you regretted your response, or your response lead to damaging results. Make a list of those triggers and consider alternate ways to respond.
These are three of nine questions the authors of Missing Conversations recommend leaders have with themselves. Taking it to the next level, leaders can then discuss these questions with their peers and their coaches to further raise the level of their leadership and lead happier more fulfilled lives. Taking time for deep conversations with others — and yourself – is a true sign of good leadership.