Leadership Requires Courage, Tact and Empathy

  • Posted on: 19 August 2013
  • By: Tina McCoy

As an educational leader, how well prepared are you to engage in uncomfortable conversations in ways that are constructive, respectful and take into account the perspectives of others?  School leaders are often put in the position of discussing issues or concerns that are hard to talk about, but rarely are they given strategies that they can actually use to navigate such conversations adeptly. This 'quick read' empowers the reader to apply strategies that illuminate paths to consensus and problem solving. Although we will likely never relish the idea of Difficult Conversations, this book by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen is particularly useful in helping leaders improve their ability to effectively engage in discussions that they’d prefer to avoid. 

Difficult Conversations is at once user-friendly and thought provoking.  Quick to read with manageable chapters, it provides a multitude of concrete examples that are easy to relate to one’s own experience and practice. Interrelated strategies encourage self-reflection, empathy and a willingness to learn from others through discourse. Far from ‘wishy-washy’ the book is focused on problem solving and building consensus in the context of discussions that most individuals would prefer to avoid. You will find the information relevant to all aspects of your life.

Caveat: This book is not confined to the field of education, nor does it address basic professional communication skills or relative communication weaknesses that some individuals may possess.