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Action Steps For A Good Leader

The author intensively talks about how they spend their time having ‘conversations’ most of the time

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A conversation confined to physical proximity isn’t always feasible. Mental or emotional proximity is essential in today’s organisational context. In his book Become, author Sameer Dua blends two widely critical skills of ‘leadership’ and ‘conversation’, which hasn’t been widely spoken about before. The idea of the book is to not only generate awareness of these conversations, but for managers to develop a level of skill in having these conversations effectively.

In developing his model from prior conversations, Dua follows the acronym of ‘coach’ (Care, Observe, Actions, Commitment and Holding space of conversation), having identified these elements of leadership conversation that tend to reinforce one another.

It is quite evident when Dua mentions (using an example of working earlier with a leader and his employees) how leaders who power their organisations through conversation-based practices need not (so to speak) dot all five of these Cs. If one set of conversations does not work, leaders must be adept at trying another. In the end, they coalesce to form a single integrated process.

The fundamentals of critical leadership coaching conversations is to enable leaders through his conversations with the learner to generate sustaiainable results. Dua’s five- step approach by using relatable models with examples that us remember them.

Let us get to the core of the book, where Dua asks a fundamental question: What do extraordinary leaders and managers really do?

The author intensively talks about how they spend their time having ‘conversations’ most of the time. By having the ‘missing conversations’ that have been listed in this book, readers will discover a more effective way of working with co-workers and teams, instead of the now outdated command and control style of operation.

Here is a summary of the five crucial conversation practices listed by Dua:

Care: Care is a fundamental dimension of all human action. This is a first, yet a crucial step. Besides being the right thing to do, caring is a cornerstone of organisations’ consistent growth despite the tremendous economic swing of the past decade. In this part, it is interesting to read about his personal example of how our present is determined by the future we live into. These reactions to the future can reveal what we care about and the new possibilities for taking care.
Observe: How would it be if members of your team paused a few times during the workday, and observed what they were observing and how they were observing? What new choices could be available to them, and what would the impact of those be on your results?

As individuals, we may look at the same thing and yet see different things. What we look at is what is out there. What we see is a function of what is in here. The world you observe not only predisposes you to action; it often propels you into action.

Dua’s earlier book Declaring Breakdowns: Powerfully Creating a Future That Matters, Through 6 Simple Steps focused on disruptive thinking and fresh starts in the leadership speace. He goes a step further in Become and distinguishes between assertion and assessment to recognise that one is a claim of fact and that the other is just an opinion. It is a powerful skill; organisations such as Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb and Facebook who don’t own anything have observed and become aware of how they can transform the world.

Commitment: How would it be if you as a leader kept and effectively managed all the promises that you made? How would it be if everyone in your team kept and effectively managed all the promises they made?

This is the essence of the chapter where he shares his insights on commitment, agreement and promise (used interchangeably) that guarantee specific outcomes. It is about how a leader manages his or her promises that significantly impact their results, an organisation being a net-work of promises to fulfill a bigger promise.

The 4R Impact framework that Dua mentions seems to be a great tool to self-reflect about promises people have made to themselves rather than just go with the routine work

Action: History is testimony to the fact that no one has ever won a game by being on the stands. This chapter deliberates on the key roles of a leader or a manager and their roles to empower teams to generate actions; the kind of questions that shape subsequent physical action for the sake of an outcome.

The Tap Matrix (the Actions-Promises matrix) that Dua refers to is a comprehensive self-assessment matrix. While conceptually this may seem simple in the book, its practice is not trivial at all. These questions that he poses are an invitation to reflection for the leader or the manager and their co-workers and blends coaching efforts to drive behavioral change.

I believe leaders should use this assessment to generate a new awareness for themselves and their teams, and hence choice for new action.

Holding Space of Conversations: Every individual is a possibility of generating extraordinary results. Dua talks about holding space of conversation’ as a container inside of which all leadership-coaching conversations can take place. If the container didn’t exist, the leadership-coaching conversations would not be effective. One way of looking at space is the context that drives conversations for individuals. The unfortunate part of the corporate world is that most often leaders and managers are unaware of the underlying moods. The space that exists in a conversational relationship determines what result can be generated in and by that relationship.

The ‘great’ model (Good feel, Reality shared, Effective conversations, Agreement and Trust) that the author has put together is a testament to his experience of having used ‘interconnectedness’ of each of these elements. It is true that you cannot have one of these elements go up, while the others come down. If you are working on any one of these, you are automatically working on the others.

Extraordinary things can happen and we just need to make it happen by incorporating the missing conversations using care and commitment with a force of observation and action. Millennials and the young generation of leaders, who are  ruling the world, could benefit from this book.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 9 June 2018 books book review

Pavan Sriram

The author is CEO, Learngage, a learning engagement company

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