With all that is going on in the world, client and colleague conversations have been increasingly more open and raw.

People who often guarded and filtered their words are sharing their personal stories of perseverance and how they feel more openly.

I’ve received texts and emails from colleagues who had previously kept their distance, personally sharing their overwhelm and pain.

These messages have been emotionally charged with language that is typically shared only with people who have me as part of their trusted inner circle.

Communicating how you’re really feeling when you’re in a leadership role has often been limited to behind closed doors conversations.

The best leaders understand the importance and value of showing their humanness – the flaws and feelings we all share.

When you’re the leader, your ideas and vision are designed to move people from one place to another.

This requires a willingness to have open and honest conversations and dance in the discomfort of what is.

Ultimately a company culture is determined by its leaders. When leaders have room for seeing and hearing others, they deepen relationship – both to people and the company.

I’m inspired by habit #5 in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Seeking first to understand before seeking to be understood means creating the space to listen to what others want before focusing on what we want.

This is critical when you’re dealing with emotions and grief for what’s been lost.

Great leaders listen through the emotions to identify where the person they’re speaking to is standing because not everyone is capable of expressing how they feel.

As you draw on your own emotional intelligence, you can move people forward by focusing on their thoughts, concerns, and fears.

Do they need guidance? Connection? Empathy? 

How you’re feeling can change moment by moment – and the same is true for those in your sphere of influence.

There are days when I post something light and joy-filled on Facebook in the morning and my whole day is upside down 10 minutes later. At the end of the rollercoaster ride however, my commitments to principles, my mission, and people remain steady.

When you do what you say, and say what you mean there is trust in what you say and belief in what you will do.

The environment you create makes it safe for people to share or not.

Leadership starts with “I” before you can ever affect the “we.”

In your conversations, do you welcome differences of opinion?

Is it safe to speak up around you?

Do your actions foster an environment of mutual respect and appreciation for all?

If so, even when you’re uncomfortable your conversations will be richer and more vibrant. Differing opinions and perspectives may broaden your own. Considering what is outside of what you already understand and believe can inspire and drive growth and creativity.

Your responsibility as a leader is to meet people where they are and take them to a place better than they could ever have imagined. 

ACTION: The Upside Challenge of the week is to examine the culture you are creating around you.

Do people engage in open and honest ways?

Have three conversations this week in which you ask open ended questions and listen more than you say.

What do you notice?

The world needs you and your brilliance.

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