Leadership on a Napkin

Lesson 4:
Always Forward the Action When You Speak

There are three levels of conversation your team could be in:If you want your team members to speak and engage in effective conversation that achieves 100% alignment especially around complex issues or decisions, get your people to follow this rule: Always forward the action when you speak.

In most teams people don’t have the orientation or skill around forwarding the action.

Instead they:

  1. Don’t listen to each other. Instead, they quietly wait for their turn to speak.
  2. Disagree before the other person completed expressing their view.
  3. Argue about non-essential things.
  4. Argue about topics they agree about.
  5. Say everything that is on their mind, even if they only need a fraction of it to convince others in their view.

Here are some practical rules you could implement in your team’s conversations to elevate their effectiveness:

  1. Don’t merely highlight the dilemmas and questions – take a stand and propose your suggested choice for the solution or direction.
  2. Never opine just because you have an opinion. Always enroll others in your stand.
  3. If you don’t have a stand, something to say that will forward the action – restrain from talking. Just listen and see if you could get behind someone else’s stand.
  4. When you express your opinion at the end always say “therefore I propose” and propose something that will forward the action.
  5. Listen keenly to the essence of what others are saying to see if you are actually aligned. Don’t waste time arguing about the non-essential aspects without first confirming if you are aligned on the essence. Once you are aligned on the essence you could work the details and articulation of the decision or direction much quicker. If you are not aligned on the essence debating the details is a waste of time.