When the CEO is Broken

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When the CEO is broken, it’s tough to make progress. But, any positive change starts with a conversation. Here’s a story about how to handle difficult dialogue.

Hard conversations can sometimes cancel out tactfulness, when the gloves come off and personalities come forward. You know what I mean? The toughest conversations often occur when tact takes a holiday.

An excerpt from The NEW Elevator Pitch

Comments can lead to questions, that lead to allegations, that lead to agendas… that never seem to align. That’s what happens when the CEO is broken.

And, by the way, you may think I’m talking about an external CEO, such as the CEO of your company. But, what about the Chief Executive in charge of a brand called Y-O-U?

When the conversation matters, people get invested, and they get involved – with energy that can be unsettling, if unexpected. In order to keep your cool, and keep focused on your agenda, you have to have a way to remain tactful even when others aren’t.

In the face of charged remarks and a heated elevator pitch I like to remember the concept of the Empty Chair.

Eames Lounge ChairThe Empty Chair represents the person (or persons) who can’t be in the room for your conversation, even though the results could have a profound impact on their lives, their professions or their families.

The Empty Chair is the seat at the table for the customer, the shareholder, the patient, the front-line manager or the student – the person who gets left out, when agendas and frustrations overtake a difficult conversation.

You see, The NEW Elevator Pitch is designed for difficult conversations.  And when the CEO is broken, turbulence is expected.  Remember who really matters, when the dialogue is difficult.  Remember who sits in the empty chair.

People resist change. People don’t like change, even when it’s good for them.


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What’s good is not always what’s familiar, and that   unfamiliarity breeds resistance. Not tact.  Is your CEO ready for that message?

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How do you inject tact into a difficult conversation, when the CEO is broken?

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