Every Conversation Counts

Leadership is how we realise human potential. Leadership is conversation. Every conversation counts. Don’t miss your chance.

Maya Angelou: …I mean, I mentor you. Everything I have learned, everything I’ve done, is at the ready when I talk to you. And in a way, you will never forget me.

Interviewer: Believe me, I won’t.

Maya Angelou: What I mean is you may forget how and where you got it, but in a few weeks, a few months, years from now, you will say something and think, Oh, I’m glad that came to me.

from a Maya Angelou interview in the Harvard Business Review

Leadership occurs or fails to occur in every interaction we have with others. Either we contribute to enabling that person to find purpose, to take action or to build capability or we miss an opportunity. Opportunities missed do not recur. The interaction that happens leaves a mark for good or leaves the other person with a query over the relationship

Realising human potential takes many conversations. You can’t impose purpose, commitment to action or learning on another. Talking at someone is the surest way to lose any opportunity to for any of these three critical elements of human potential. The fastest, simplest and most effective ways to undermine your leadership are failing to engage fully, having a surface level discussion or failing to authentically share all of your ability to assist.

In networks, where communication may be bound by looser ties of relationship and mediated by technology, mindful, purposeful and authentic conversation is an even more important practice. Leading in networks demands influential and insightful conversations to draw out and realise human potential. Human potential and the value it can create will only be realised where your conversations lead another person to learning, trust and commitment to act differently. You need to bring your whole self to have a chance of achieving that kind of change.

Follow Maya Angelou, bring everything to your next conversation and every conversation thereafter. Help another find a path to their potential. The impact of each conversation is the mark of your leadership.

How are you going to bring everything to your next conversation?

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