Many leaders recognise the importance of having regular conversations with their team or co-workers, but as leaders you can improve you own engagement and performance by showing the same courage and using the techniques in these conversations on yourself.

In 2016, take some time out to consider the extent to which you trust yourself, the extent to which you acknowledge the things that you do well and the things that challenge you. It is also the ideal time to consider the things that you do that are not helpful, as well as the extent to which you think about the future and take steps towards.

Conversation 1 – Building a trusting relationship:

How open and honest are you with yourself? How well do you trust yourself to do what you know is right? Do you find that you lack courage sometimes – and wish that you could say what you thought? Do you trust your judgement? How could you be more open about what you truly believe? Do you need to take time away from projects and tasks to think this through?

Conversation 2 – Agreeing mutual expectations:

What are you passionate about and what would be a really stretching but motivating goal for you? Who can help you achieve what you want to achieve? Why does it matter to you?

Conversation 3 – Showing genuine appreciation:

Do you ever take the time to acknowledge what you do really well? We often take our personal strengths for granted. One of our colleagues says, “My husband is great at high level scientific thinking but struggles to put together a formal letter – he just doesn’t know how to do it. I can do it really easily, but it never occurred to me that this was a skill that someone else, someone intellectually highly capable, might not have and would value.”

Conversation 4 – Challenging unhelpful behaviour:

What are the traits and behaviours that you catch yourself doing, that you dislike? Could you work through to identify what the behaviour is – not in general terms, but narrowed down to specifics – then work out how it makes you feel and others feel? If you did this, might it create an opportunity to change?

Conversation 5 – Building for the future:

Do you think about your future? If you have had the chance to look at your own behaviour, could you link it to deficiencies or gaps between where you are now and where you would like to be? How could you seek opportunities to bring more of what you want into your current role or another role in your organisation?

By Nigel Purse, co-author of 5 Conversations