What is one of the most critical skills a leader can have?

Is it creating positive team chemistry, the ability to build relationships, the capacity to teach others, the aptitude to resolve conflicts, or is it the power of sharing a vision?

Those are all critical, yet they have something in common—the ability to communicate.

The most powerful skill is the ability to converse with others in such a manner that the listener feels empowered, inspired, and valued. How do you go about attaining such a skill?

In order to have honest and valued conversations with others, you must first have these conversations with yourself. These conversations are challenging. Many times you do not want to hear what most needs to be heard. It means being willing to look at yourself in a way that others see you. It means asking others what pieces of you limit you in your ability to be successful in your personal relationships and in your professional ones.


It means taking down the walls you have so carefully constructed that protect you from the things you do not want to know. It doesn’t mean you have to tear yourself down in the process. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve. What you desire is improvement; not self destruction.

I was speaking to a coaching client a few weeks ago. He was upset with himself, because he had inadvertently sent an email out to his clients which included a political piece at the beginning of the video. He was multi-tasking and failed to listen to the entire video. He received three emails back from individuals who were extremely upset about the political content of the video.

Instead of immediately calling or emailing the individuals, he spent a night beating himself up, tossing and turning, feigning sleep, and feeling guilty for his inattentiveness. He sent an apologetic email the following day, but four days later when speaking to me, he was still visibly upset.

He had the conversation with himself he had erred, but he failed to have the conversation about why he felt it was necessary to beat himself up for four days. This is common for most of us. We skip the conversations we most need.


Isn’t this true in our personal relationships as well as our business relationships—that we avoid the conversations which feel most uncomfortable? We think somehow we can resolve them by ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist. What is the cost of not having those conversations?

Do we lose our spouse, partner, or our best friend? Do we lose opportunities? Clients? Financial freedom?

Is the price of not having the conversation preventing us from having the things we love?

Honest conversations involve asking and answering the difficult questions. When we can do this, we have a map of where we need to go and why we need to go there. By having one open and authentic conversation at a time, we can find the opportunities we have been missing.