As project managers, we’re taught “communicate, communicate, communicate.” Unfortunately, most communications are one-way pushes and miss the power of two-way conversations. Many conversations are serial monologues. Many of us tend to underestimate, or even fear, the power of conversations. Keep in mind the fact that each project worker has a different perspective and may or may not have the opportunity to reflect upon and share their perspective. There can be multiple “truths” at play with little time and opportunity to work through them. Communicating and deeply contacting each other through two-way conversations requires practice.
Most of us rarely examine our conversations. Recall that Socrates often gets credit for saying, “the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” That might be a bit harsh, but it brings to mind the value of taking at least a moment to examine what you’re doing in the many conversations that you have every day.
Upon examination you might notice that conversations aren’t complicated, they are complex. If conversations were complicated, there would be conversational “pieces” that fit together, and we each simply need to learn the pieces and place them in the right place at the right moment. Unfortunately, this is exactly how some conversations happen. Complexity, on the other hand, involves moving parts that affect and change each other. During a conversation I change you, you change me, and we change our shared relationship. It is an unfolding dynamic process. The conversation and its impact are different every time we engage.
As project managers, many of us tend to believe that putting some structure and shared understanding into our projects increases the likelihood of project success. Conversational Leadership intends to shine that shared understanding into the conversations themselves, in addition to the tasks and project plans. The conversations are often the work, more than the tasks themselves. This includes the full range of conversations from banter to decision-making to uncomfortable and challenging. It can be difficult to work with other people, as you know.
What if you had a deeper awareness of the complexity of conversations? What if you could “see and sense” what is happening with yourself, others, and the conversational process? What if you could intervene with the direction of conversations within single projects, as well as across programs and organizations? What if understanding the complexity of conversations is a major portion of what enables the organizational and societal transformations that are so needed today?
Conversational Leadership provides and practices short-term and long-term approaches for deepening your conversational awareness. Each conversation has a ripple effect, and Conversational Leadership also supports us to look at the aggregate of our conversations as well. What an opportunity to pause, reflect, examine, practice, and improve not just the words you say and how you say them, but to fundamentally take conversations and collective sense-making to a new level. Conversational Leadership wants to work with you on that.
Are you ready to build your own Conversational Leadership skills?
Leverage the power of conversation to unlock creative thinking, innovation and continuous self-improvement for you, your organization, and the broader community. Learn how through our upcoming professional short course, Conversational Leadership, which starts on May 9, 2022.