Suppose your community has launched a significant initiative for children with much fanfare ─ but now, a few months later, progress has stalled. Or a key funding source for your work disappears. Or the initiative is moving so swiftly that you want to start the next stage earlier than planned. In each case, you need to have an important conversation with your partners. But where do you begin?
Having the right conversations is key for leaders to achieve results, and to the Casey Foundation’s leadership development approach. Without having the right language and the right context to talk honestly with each other at critical points, you may have trouble moving ahead in high action and high alignment. A new video describes ten conversations that results-based leaders can use to get or stay on track.
“To get in high action, high alignment and stay there requires having the right kinds of conversations with the people who are collaborating with you towards a result,” says Raj Chawla, a Foundation leadership development faculty member. Those conversations fall into several categories:
Moving out of low action, low alignment. These conversations help you reflect with partners when the partnership seems out of sync and not much is being accomplished. The conversations focus on the personal power each partner has to change the situation for the better. You could begin this kind of conversation with a question such as: “If you could move forward on your own, what would you do ─ and what prevents you from doing that?”
Achieving higher alignment. This kind of conversation helps improve a good working relationship and accelerate results. One way to approach this is by inviting your partners to more concretely define what you are jointly working toward and how each of you envisions getting there. “What does success look like for each of us? What are our conditions of satisfaction for working together?”
Achieving higher action. Maybe you and your partners are in perfect agreement about how to proceed ─ but not enough is actually getting done. In this case, you may need to start a tough conversation about capacity and resources to do the work. A conversation that begins: “What are you willing to say yes to? What do you say no to?” can make the limits and the possibilities clearer.
Maintaining high action, high alignment. You’re working in sync and you’re getting things done ─ but you want to make sure you maintain this high level until your chosen results are achieved. Regularly asking questions like “what just happened, and what did we learn?” can promote an environment of continuous improvement.