Without truth from others, a leader is left only with his/her assumptions or perceptions and that is a dangerous place to be. So how does a leader ensure that their staff and friends tell them the truth? It is an important question that has huge ramifications. What we don't know will hurt us. What we do know can help us - if we pay attention!

Leaders either encourage or discourage their staff from sharing truth with them. On the negative side, they discourage the truth by sending messages that "You should not go there," or, it is not safe to talk about these things because if you do your leader becomes defensive. Truth is an important commodity that can either be mined or easily ignored.

How do we encourage truth? First, we encourage "robust dialogue" where we tell our team that any issue can be put on the table with the exception of personal attacks or hidden agendas. Second, when people share openly, we as leaders respond with a non-defensive attitude that conveys "I have nothing to prove and nothing to lose." It is the attitude and reaction of leaders that either encourages or discourages honest and candid dialogue among a team.

Leaders can also ask critical questions such as "Is there anything I do that you wish I would do differently," or, "If there was one thing that you wish I did differently, what would it be?" designed to help mine for truth. Ironically, many leaders are afraid of truth when truth is their largest gift. I may or may not agree with what is shared but I would certainly desire to know what people think than not. 

Leaders set the standard for how candid their staff can be with them. I have worked for leaders who did not want honesty and those who did and I will not work for those who don't ever again. As a leader I want to know what people are thinking, what suggestions they have and what their perceptions are. Without that I cannot lead well. I don't have to like what I hear to appreciate it deeply. My expectation is that my staff will tell me the truth whether it hurts or not. Those who don't are the poorer for it.

All of T.J. Addington's books are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 discount on orders of ten or more.

  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Category: News
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