Every day, sometimes more than once, Douglas Conant puts on his sneakers and walks around the building where he works as President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. His goal is to touch base with the people he encounters and interact with them about themselves, their leaders and their work. Conant calls these touch points, short conversations that help people feel connected, sense possibilities and be encouraged to change. Conant’s book Touch Points, coauthored with leadership consultant Mette Norgaard, is about “creating powerful leadership connections in the smallest of moments.” It’s about turning informal conversations, including interruptions, into brief but strategic leadership interventions that impact individuals and transform organizations. Conant and Norgaard describe the process in a brief video if you click here.
Touch points involve building authentic relationships, using good listening skills, asking thought-provoking questions and helping others think through action plans. Often there is follow up including notes of encouragement. The further I read, the more I was thinking “this is basic coaching applied to leadership with brief, counseling, consulting and advice giving brought in.” Its uniqueness is in the brief-strategic nature of the interactions. These can occur at any time or place in the form of “powerful leadership connections” often lasting only a few minutes.
Some of the book’s many endorsements seem overly lavish, especially for readers with coaching or counseling backgrounds. Nevertheless there are several helpful take-aways:
- Leadership and coaching (used separately or together) can be very effective as short term interactions that take place as we connect with people where they are. Using real-life examples the book shows how these interactions are done.
- Touch points are not limited to corporations or organizations. These purposeful connections could be used effectively in churches, schools, families or in other informal interactions.
- A lot depends on the leader’s personality and relationship skills. Touch point connections seem especially well suited for socially skilled coach-leaders who know how to listen with focus, think clearly and relate with warmth.
- This could be a model for leadership coaching and building coaching environments.
Please leave a comment to tell us your thoughts or experiences.