Strategy Execution is Driven by Conversations

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Whether it's conversations about strategy and priority, conversations about staffing and resource planning, or conversations about project needs, the greatest enabler of getting things done is... you guessed it... conversations.

The best systems in the world won't make up for a lack of communication. But, as George Bernard Shaw said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

The right kind of communication requires what my good friend and leadership guru Judith E. Glaser calls Conversational Intellience, or C-IQ, which is the subject of her landmark book, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results.

In the book, Glaser talks about three levels of conversation, each with its own purpose:

  1. Transactional Conversation -- in which the goal is to INFORM, and at best seek give and take.
  2. Positional Conversation -- in which the goal is to PERSUADE, and at best seek a win-win.
  3. Transformational Conversation -- in which the goal is to CO-CREATE, engaging in a mutual exchange of ideas.

It is the third type that is often most elusive, and where real change happens. In this article from the Korn Ferry Institute titled "What is Conversational Intelligence?", Glaser also talks about five mistakes that lower Conversational Intelligence, including:

  1. Ignoring other perspectives
  2. Fixation on being "right"
  3. Tell-Sell-Yell
  4. Allowing emotions to affect listening
  5. Disengaged listeners

The article offers tips for dealing with each. I highly recommend reading it, and the book, which offers, among other things, the following words of wisdom:

To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of our culture, which depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations. Everything happens through conversation.
— Judith E. Glaser
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Jerry Manas is the bestselling author of The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook, Napoleon on Project Management, and more. At PDWare, Jerry helps clients improve strategy execution through tools and processes that align people and work with organizational priorities. Connect with Jerry on Twitter and LinkedIn