Leadership Communication Elements

Related to the Harvard Business Review article being discussed in these blog posts, from the same authors, is the book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power their Organizations.  In it, they list the four I’s of conversational leadership:

1. Intimacy

2. Interactivity

3. Inclusion

4. Intentionality

This post covers intimacy.  Intimacy in the context of conversational leadership means shortening distances between leaders and team members thru:

  • Listening.  Many years ago, I asked a board member, the best advice he ever got.  He paused and said, “First seek to understand then seek to be understood.” This is habit number five in Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  As a leader, we need to make a lot of decisions.  For me, it can be tempting to make a decision quickly before listening/getting input.  Every week, I can point to an example where following this advice (of waiting, listening, and getting input) resulted in not only better decisions but a better experience/process for those impacted by the decision.


  • Equality.  Managers using a conversational approach to leadership won’t dictate or demand based on their title.  They let the best idea win.


  • Transparency.  In a conversational approach to leadership, the authors note, organizations and leaders need to be willing to “share sensitive data such as financials.” Intertech has been open book for so long, I can’t remember when we didn’t share financials. When other business owners have questioned me on this practice, I share most people in an organization want to know how the organization is doing financially.  This is especially true in tougher economic times.  If people don’t have information they’ll make it up.  What they make up will be way better or worse than the actual situation.

Next: Dialogue and growth as ways to improve communication