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The #1 Thing A Leader Can Do to Have Greater Impact

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

It’s a sure bet: Have one more conversation per week with every direct report.

But not just any conversation.

It must be a truthful but caring chat about how that person can make a difference in the company and in their own satisfaction. If you do it regularly, the conversation can take 5 minutes or less. If you’ve never done it, it may seem to you like a ridiculously time-consuming and terrifying task.

If you’ve held back how you really feel about the person’s work and how frustrated you are, you’ll need to prepare yourself a bit. Not to script the perfect and legally-defensible conversation, but to filter through all the built-up piles of comments you never made to the person directly, find a couple of key themes, and get calm about expressing it honestly.

If you’ve been totally satisfied with the person’s work and regularly provided “drive-by praise,” you’ll need to get patient and identify what specific goodness that person has delivered to the business and how they did it, so that you can really connect with them personally and help them see how they matter.

This is a great time to think about the future and what the business needs, and then explain what you are expecting each person to do to help you make that future happen. Even if an honest conversation is tough for both of you, you will be showing that you care and that you want to help them turn it around.

For most of these conversations, the good stuff they did will outweigh the not-so-good. Your caring attitude will actually build their motivation to change and grow, and your authenticity will be a plus. Everyone (or almost everyone) knows they aren’t perfect on the job, and your acknowledgement of a couple of things they can do better just comes across as real.

You are now more trustworthy. You aren’t holding back. AND both of you are the winners.

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