How to Have Difficult Conversations as a Leader

While most of us aspire to lead, not many of us understand the complications that come with being a leader. Apart from decision making, direction, and authority, a leader also has to undertake some uncomfortable tasks like firing someone, pin-pointing a subordinate’s mistakes, and rejecting candidates for a promotion. If you find yourself stuck in these awkward situations as a leader, here are some things you can do to facilitate a smooth conversation.

Give importance to emotional intelligence over logical reasoning

The basis of your decisions at the workplace should always be governed by logic and not a personal bias. However, communicating these tough decisions to your employees requires a certain quotient of emotional intelligence. As per a study conducted by Harvard, it was found that 90% of success at high career levels comes from EQ (emotional quotient) and not IQ (Intelligence quotient). Use this to communicate the shortcomings in the performance of a subordinate effectively, so they feel encouraged and motivated and not insulted.

Plan the conversation beforehand

No matter how many times you find yourself in this situation, it never gets easy to convey a few things like terminating an employee’s contract or rejecting a candidate in favor of another for a promotion. In such cases, it is important to plan the conversation. Start with highlighting the person’s strengths, followed by the areas they can work upon. You should highlight the reason behind your decisions in a transparent manner. This is also an opportunity to implement the EQ quotient.

Be mindful of your words

Words can leave a lasting impression on people. So make sure to be careful of what you say. Disciplining someone over poor performance and criticizing someone are two very different things. It is essential to understand the implications of your words. Regardless of the issue you are dealing with, there is always a more positive and balanced way of putting things out there.

Cultivate openness in the workplace

Communication is a two-way street. As important as it is for leaders to pass feedback to their subordinates, it is also vital for employees to be able to voice their concerns back to the management. When you foster the right level of openness in your office, you allow a certain intensity of candidness to step in. This takes out the awkwardness factor from conversations and permits valuable and constructive criticism and advice to flow.

Don’t leave them hanging

The primary role of a leader is to lead. Instead of just pointing out a person’s mistakes, you should focus on helping them understand the next steps. While addressing an issue, you must also present the possible ways to overcome it. Your subordinates should learn something new from the meeting so that they can improve with time.

To sum it up

The responsibility of a leader is multifaceted. Many uncomfortable situations are likely to come your way every day, but proper planning, observation, and a little empathy can help you overcome most obstacles.

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