Conversational leadership emphasizes keen attention, self-discipline, and a certain kind of artistry in engaging with others. It does not mean indulging in endless talking but rather identifying and engaging with the crucial and often courageous exchanges that facilitate meaningful change.
It begins with a leader understanding that one of their functions in shaping and evolving an organization is to consciously address the essential conversations which form how people think and act. Many of these conversations go unspoken in public settings, because they often reveal the conflicts or tensions that lie below the surface, bringing controversy and disagreement in their wake. It takes courage for a leader to step into this territory, to let go of control and open to input and differences.
The traditional approach is for the leader to figure out what is right, and then persuade others to do it. Alternatively, engaging in conversational leadership is to "invite what you do not expect," bringing you to the frontier of what is emerging in your organization and asking you to turn into it, rather than away from it.
Our work at The Institute for Conversational Leadership is to build the presence, instinct and artistry required to steward these conversations and in doing so, shape organizations in which we long to participate.