Today’s organizations are experiencing an ever-accelerating rate of change and informational flow amid fierce competition and tight labor markets. As leaders, we are being called upon to do more with less, keep pace with the current information explosion and technological revolution, and display breadth and depth in more areas than our predecessors. To address the growing need to develop our workforce, we as leaders must change the ways in which we interact with our direct reports.

The challenges currently facing our businesses require that we leave behind some of our comfortable routines and move into territory that we have not explored before. Leadership is all about moving out of the village (the comfortable confines of our current state/environment) and taking people where they have not been before.

Whenever we leave the village and move into new territory, one of the things we inevitably have to confront are what have been called “Unwelcomed Realities”—aspects of the situation or challenge that we must confront, but don’t want to.  We have no problem getting people to embrace those welcomed new realities, but when the new realities are unpleasant, people often work hard to avoid dealing with them and therefore courage is required.

As leaders of people ourselves, we have wrestled in the trenches on teams within a variety of organizations for decades.  We have been students of leadership, and conversed and coached thousands of leaders in over 50 countries, and we understand the importance of what we share.

Courageous Conversations™ are the keys to strategy, innovation, execution and sustainability. Courageous coaching conversations are a critical lever to engagement, commitment, and high levels of satisfaction.  Courageous Conversations™ are good for people, good for organizational dynamics, and good for business.

The Courageous Conversations™ methodology is influenced by the brilliant work of Chris Argyris and Donald Schoen, whose research on Action Science may be considered some of the most robust social science research ever conducted and whose work has spanned nearly 50 years.  We believe our contribution to their efforts provides a more thorough understanding and user-friendly approach for their model, its complexity, and its numerous applications.

The Courageous Conversations™ approach is not a panacea, it certainly won’t fix all of our leadership woes, but  it can help you identify the predicable patterns we as leaders, regardless of our age, sex, race, social-economic backgrounds, have developed over time and the traps we all fall into when conversations are lacking or ineffective.

Courageous Conversations™ can guide and help you become better through giving you a set of new skills required for increased conversational competence.  Again, Courageous Conversations™ is not as much about being comfortable as it is about being more effective around important issues that matter most and having the courage and competence to engage and lead others more humanely.

You have no way of really knowing how a conversation will be received, but it is important to understand the potential risks involved and to ensure you are making an informed choice about moving forward with the conversation.

Whatever issues your courageous conversation addresses, the potential risks and benefits involved must be evaluated carefully.  Making an informed choice is a critical step towards your conversational effectiveness. Remember, your efficiency is dependent upon how you engage the conversation, not solely on the openness of the recipient.

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About the Author
Tony Herrera
Dr. Herrera, a resourceful and people-oriented professional, has had more than 20 years of global leadership and organizational development experience in a wide variety of industries before he became the Chief Talent Officer for Schreiber Foods. Prior to his position with Schreiber Foods, he served as Regional Learning Officer for Pfizer, Inc. based in New York City, NY. At Pfizer, Tony was responsible for Asia and Latin America. In this role, he designed and led a global learning strategy for over 15,000 developing leaders. Before joining Pfizer, Tony worked at Boeing, 3Com, and Merck. Dr. Herrera is a responsible and self-directed leader with an excellent record of achieving challenging objectives. His perspective is very different, having been on the “inside.” He has a greater understanding and insights into what companies really experience and the challenges they are trying to overcome because he has lived them. He has facilitated an extensive amount of leadership development in a variety of setting to audiences in nearly 50 countries.

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