When we used to teach management styles, it was about having a leader at the top of a pyramid, whose wishes were carried out by people on lower areas of the pyramid. Most of this carrying out was directive, meaning the leader told people what to do with the expectation it would be carried out. If employees didn’t do as directed, the consequences were negative and could include a variety of punitive actions, such as getting fired, not receiving promotions, or being denied training opportunities.

Today, that organizational model struggles to survive. Company leaders have recognized that the old-style command and control methods don’t work anymore. We now understand what it actually takes to engage people, and we know the people carrying out the work are intelligent, innovative, and valuable.

We’re operating in environments where people don’t deliver a simply manufactured item that can be counted on a spreadsheet. Today’s employees have the ability to drive success (or failure) through the culture of the organization by their attitude and through their own leadership qualities.

Conversational leadership is part of this shift. The culture of people having conversations is a leadership strategy that encourages trust and close working relationships. It uses conversation as a way for everyone within the organization to communicate.