How leaders can approach hard conversations — Quartz


The days of brands staying silent amidst political and civil unrest are long gone. At the helm of one of the largest independent communications agencies in the world, WE’s co-founder and global CEO Melissa Waggener-Zorkin knows how crucial it is for company leaders to discuss complex societal issues inside their walls and out with a sense of vulnerability, mindfulness, and conviction.

To guide these difficult conversations with employees and consumers, Waggener-Zorkin shares her philosophy of humility with Quartz CEO Zach Seward, a practice especially powerful when it comes to being called out for missteps and listening to “unvarnished input,” as she describes it.

I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. I want other people to have that chance, and to know who I am, what I stand for, and what I’m not so great at.

She’s not alone in this approach and cites how execs at companies such as Spotify, Chobani, Target, Walgreens, and Microsoft haven’t let economic pressures dissuade them from values-driven leadership. Join these two executives for an honest dialogue about how managers should pause to meditate on their own defensiveness when challenged, engage with a broad array of stakeholders, and speak with purpose even during challenging times.

Read more: How a new generation of workers has revitalized employee activism

Follow Quartz on LinkedIn to learn from CEO Zach Seward and other leaders working to improve their slice of the business world, airing live every Tuesday at 11 am ET. 



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