Powerful Words

The KEY to Powerful Conversations

I gave a workshop to NUIG Executive MBA’ers last week called Powerful Conversations.

Obviously I did some research in advance which included an article from Harvard Business Review called ‘Leadership Is A Conversation‘ by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind. Here are a few of the nuggets from the article:

• Leadership Is a Conversation – the role of a leader is to have conversations that add value to the organisation.
• The command-and-control approach to management has in recent years become less and less viable.
• Part of the answer lies in how leaders manage communication within their organisations.
• Smart leaders today, engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation.
• The essential attributes of interpersonal conversation: Intimacy, Interactivity, Inclusion, and Intentionality

What Groysberg and Slind didn’t emphasise is what I believe to be the KEY to powerful conversations – A Powerful Question.

So what makes a question powerful?

• Stimulates creativity
• Motivates fresh thinking
• Surfaces underlying assumptions
• Focuses intention, attention, and energy
• Opens the door to change
• Leads us into the future

How we word the question is critical. Here’s a hierarchy of the first word you might use:

Powerful Words
Some examples:
How could we have the conversation we are not having?
What might DNA look like in 3D format?
What could a good school also be?
How might our staff be enthusiastically engaged in our strategic programmes?
How do we have better conversations?
Put Groysberg and Slind’s essential attributes of interpersonal conversation plus a powerful question together and you will be having Powerful Conversations.

Intimacy, Interactivity, Inclusion, and Intentionality + a Powerful Question
= Powerful Conversations


What Powerful Conversation do you need to have, and what’s your question?

Contact me if you need some help.

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