Empowering Teams




Conversations with your team matter. How you talk to people, when and if you do, set a tone for your leadership style and effective. ScoutingU’s Team Leader Steve Yackel presents the topic of “Leading with Conversations.”


In her TED Talk, Celeste Headlee provides 10 behaviors we can practice while in conversation with others that leave the person you are having the conversation with feeling engaged and inspired. Celeste suggest that these behaviors help us connect to people and work much better than artificial methods of having people feel as if you are paying attention.

  1. Do not multitask – be present in the moment
  2. Don’t pontificate
  3. Use open ended questions.
  4. Go with the flow
  5. If you do not know, say you do not know
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs
  7. Try not to repeat yourself
  8. Stay out of the weeds
  9. Listen
  10. Be Brief

Which of these 10 behaviors will you practice this next week when you are in conversation with someone?Conversations can provide you organization with new possibilities. Take a moment to read this article from Insigniam Consulting about the benefits of about conversations that generate innovations and opportunities.


If the workplace is changing and it takes more than the old style psychological contract to engage employees and enable them to achieve their full potential, then what is the role of the leader. The role of the leader is to be the conversation initiator. Through questions or by bringing people with diverse view points and experiences together the leader builds the opportunity for a conversation to occur that will lead to a positive outcome. Learn more by reading this article by Michael Hyatt.

We used this strategy recently in a multi-departmental meeting where we were asking participants to help us define what the best employee onboarding process would look like. Instead of trying to have the full group of 16 people brainstorm one list (25% of which were joining from remote locations) the larger group was broken into four groups of four and were encouraged to have a conversation within their group to identify what the experience would look like. The results were amazing and the number or ideas surpassed what we would have received as a single large group.

Conversations are important to building ideas. The back and forth nature of a conversation allows the group members to build on the ideas of others and make connections between two ideas that may have not seemed as related before. The role of the leader is to set these conversations up by creating situations where conversations can occur and then listening to what is shared.


Superior people skills are critical to leaders in organizations, and can help overcome gaps in a leader’s technical skills. Imagine a workplace where the only time you had a conversation with another person was when they needed something or when you made a mistake. Most of conversations at work are task focused or result in some kind of feedback. This feeling can be easily avoided when an individual on the person’s team, ideally managers and leaders, take the initiative to express appreciation, share a positive comment or ask how things are going. Here are some tips to having conversations that build relationships.

  • Extend Trust: As a leader be willing to be open and share information about yourself. Be willing to share with your employees so that they know who you are and they will be more willing to share about themselves. Be accepting when people share information about themselves. They have taken a risk and are extending trust to you by sharing that information. It is important that the leader accepts their perspective and not judge, even if the leader does not agree.
  • Recognition, Appreciation, Interest: Focusing on what is working well are often neglected conversations. Conversations that focus on what’s working well, what we appreciate and demonstrate that we are grateful will build relationships. There is a profound human need for recognition, and our conversations are a great place to provide for this need.
  • Empathetic Listening: Focusing on the skills of observing nonverbal communications, being attentive and checking for understanding all lead to a better conversation. As a leader take the time to focus on the person you are having a conversation with, and avoid the distractions that surround you in the work place.

So what does a manager have to do to have a relationship building conversation? They need to show up, listen up, speak up and lift up. An intentional focus on conversations that build relationship provides the employee with support and shows that the organization cares about them.