What skill does your entire business run on?

It's an operating system--but I'm not referring to technology.

It's conversation.

Here's why: the ability to connect with people, understand them and partner with them is the operating system (O/S) that drives vital "apps" like great sales, customer service, coaching, problem-solving, innovation and strategy.

What would happen if conversation didn't exist? All those apps would crash--and your business would fail.

In other words, conversation has the power to super-charge the success of your entire organization.

And it all starts with the human brain.

Your  brain's operating system

Moment by moment, each of your brain's 100 billion neurons engages in conversation with up to one thousand of its neighbors. 

This connection-hungry population forms a community of neuronal conversations in your brain: essentially an O/S that powers up all your "apps" like walking, speaking, problem-solving, innovating...even wine-tasting. 

In addition, science shows that your brain is significantly strengthened and enhanced by social conversations "between brains." This is your native wiring and, consequently, the perfect operating system all humans need to connect, understand and harmonize with others.

You can amp up the speed and power of your brain by making sure your neurons have a good supply of neurotransmitters. Bathe your brain with a rich flow of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, and your neurons will transmit and receive messages in three very particular and powerful ways:

  1. Oxytocin gives you an uncanny ability to connect with people.
  2. Dopamine enables you to understand what's possible in any situation.
  3. Serotonin gives you the self-efficacy and confidence you need to partner with others.

Master these three skills of connection, understanding and partnering--and you propel your leadership success.

The pitfalls of episodic conversation

Unfortunately, if you're like most leaders I work with, you probably don't view conversation as the O/S of your organization. 

Instead, leaders view conversation as a waste of time, something that stands in the way of getting stuff done. It has utility, but only when there's a conflict to resolve.

I salute the work done by Crucial Conversations, Fierce Conversations and Difficult Conversations. However, something unintended has arisen from this fierce focus: we've relegated conversation to the episodic. Whenever there's an episode, we pull out our conversation skills--but for the rest of our work week, we miss myriad opportunities to connect, understand and partner with each other.

Hardwire conversation into organizational life

When you hardwire conversation into every aspect of organizational life, this changes everything. 

People give feedback, engage in meetings, negotiate with suppliers, and even show up to the media with the conversation skills of connection, understanding and partnering. 

Moreover, people begin to:

  • Initiate across silos instead of always protecting their turf
  • Engage in change instead of resisting change
  • Ask for clarity instead of saying "You never communicate to us"
  • Sort out their own issues instead of running to their leaders as referees
  • Discuss potential solutions instead of only presenting problems

All of this has a singular effect on leaders like you: giving you the capacity to run the business. 

Make conversation your most powerful operating system

Model, reward and encourage a culture of conversation, and you power up all the apps that drive the success of your business: sales, customer service, innovation, coaching and feedback. 

In doing so, your organization can transform itself into something as coordinated and intelligent as a highly functioning brain.