Have difficult conversations

Photo/Dennis Sparks

Leaders seldom look forward to difficult conversations. But few leadership acts are more important than having what some call “crucial conversations.” Such conversations can be the first step in solving long-standing problems that diminish performance and drain energy. These conversations can also signal to the school community a leaders’ integrity in forthrightly addressing significant issues. Here are a number of suggestions related to this important skill.

“Whether you are a senior staff member or brand new to a job, it can be difficult to speak up when you see something wrong. However, not doing so can have deleterious consequences for your company, and your career. Here are the top three rationalizations for keeping silent and how to confront them.” —Management Tip of the Day

“When someone shows up late to a meeting or makes a comment that makes you uncomfortable, it can be difficult to decide if it’s a big enough deal to address or if you should let it go. In situations like these, try using the “rule of three.” —Management Tip of the Day

“Disagreeing with a colleague about whether to raise prices or when to launch a new product is often easier than confronting a colleague about an ethical issue. Here are three tips for raising the issue in a non-combative and productive way.” —Management Tip of the Day

“There’s one in nearly every work group – that certain someone whose words and/or demeanor gets you all fired up. It may be that their opinions and values are worlds apart from yours. Perhaps they are openly hostile to you or your personalities clash. But whatever the reason for the conflict, you can’t avoid or ignore that annoying work colleague because your job requires you to interact with them.

“So what’s a leader to do? What all savvy character-based business people do—take the personal high road of managing yourself to success.” —Jane Perdue

“One of the hallmarks of a great leader is their ability to truly ‘see’ viewpoints other than their own. They may not agree with these viewpoints, but they can learn to understand them. Learning to understand is the first step toward resolution and reconciliation.” —Mary Jo Asmus

Take a moment now to . . .

• identify a “crucial conversation” that is important to the achievement of an important school goal and plan how you will address the issue, including the key points you will express and the requests you will make. Rehearse the conversations with a respected colleague, if appropriate.

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