Conversational Leadership is an emerging multidisciplinary practice. It is still in its infancy, barely ten years old. Not surprisingly, Conversational Leadership has two pillars, leadership and conversation. Let’s look at each in turn but keep in mind that although conversation and leadership are the bedrock of Conversational Leadership, it is far more than this.


First, Conversational Leadership sees leadership as a practice and not as a position of authority, and we need to realize that leadership is a choice that we can all make.

In a complex world, a single leader or manager does not have the ability to make sense of the world or set the vision and control things towards a better future, however hard they try. Grand visions, plans, and control are mostly counter-productive. We need a distributed, participatory, more democratic form of leadership.

We need everyone who cares deeply about an issue to take responsibility, step up to the mark and lead through their influence. We need everyone to be engaged.


Second, Conversational Leadership recognizes the extraordinary but underutilized power of conversation.

In a complex world, we need to make better sense of things, improve our decision-making and strategizing, enhance our ability to influence and develop agency. Lastly, we need to renew the way we live and work together. Conservation plays a massive role in all of this.

As an individual, how do we lead without the power of authority? We do it through influence. We do it through the relationships we build and the conversations we convene, initiate, and engage.

Conversation helps us to understand each other better and, in doing so, better understand ourselves. It helps us enhance trust and respect for each other. It allows us to form and sustain strong interpersonal relationships, which enables us to cooperate better and collaborate.

Furthermore, conversation is a social reasoning and collective sense-making tool. It helps us figure out new ways of seeing the world by applying cognitive diversity to bring different perspectives to bear on an issue. This, in turn, leads to improved decision-making and innovation.

We all need to come together in conversation to make sense of things and improve our decision-making. Having made those decisions, we need to develop the agency to act on the decisions and work together. Again, we do this through conversation.

Transforming our ability to converse effectively is at the heart of Conversational Leadership.

Leadership and conversation are the two pillars of Conversational Leadership.

Conversational Leadership is about appreciating the transformative power of conversation, practicing leadership, and adopting a conversational approach to the way we work together in a complex world.

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.

Related Posts:

What is Conversational Leadership
Experiencing Conversational Leadership
Conversational Leadership for Project Managers
Conversational Leadership and Racial Equity

Author: David Gurteen
Founder and Director, Gurteen Knowledge. Creator of the Knowledge Café