The Leadership Conversation: A book review by Bob Morris

The Leadership Conversation [colon] Make Bold Change [comma] One Conversation at a Time
Rose Fass,
TotalPublshingAndMedia (November 2022)

“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

I was again reminded of the Roosevelt observation as I began to read Ross Fass’s latest book. In it, she shares the most valuable lessons she has learned with regard to HOW to achieve “bold change one conversation at a time.”

Throughout history, all great leaders were great listeners but they also made effective use of conversations to achieve high-impact communication, cooperation, and collaboration between and among those whom they led. All organizations need such leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. In TouchPoints, Douglas Conant and  Mette Norgaard explain how important casual, informal, day-to-day interactions in the workplace can be. They are unique opportunities to exchange information (especially concerns) as well as a non-threatening means by which to get to know one’s associates much better as fellow-workers, yes, but also as human beings.

In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that the greatest resistance to change tends to be cultural in nature, the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Presumably, Fass agrees with O’Toole that one of the best ways to increase buy-in for change initiatives is to listen attentively to others’ opinions as well as to provide explanations and address concerns.

This book serves as an extended (albeit one-way) conversation with Fass. She makes brilliant use of direct address,  a device by which to make her reader feel that she wrote the book expressly for them. Other reader-friendly devices include checklists, dos and don’ts, periodic reminders, and specific examples to illustrate key points.

I presume to offer two suggestions when reading this book: Highlight key passages and keep a lined notebook near at hand in which to record your questions, comments, and page references.  These two simple tactics will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

nd Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two others: Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Revised & Expanded Edition, 2021) and Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (Third Edition, 2021) co-authored by  Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Emily Gregory.


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