The Lost Art of Speaking Truthfullyby Tiffany Crosby on 06/15/12
Speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Could you imagine how business conversations would change if we actually adhered to that mantra as leaders? People that are exhibiting performance issues would actually know about them before they were written off as hopeless. If business results were poor and employees had reason to be concerned about the future of the company and their jobs, they would know about it and not be surprised by layoffs or plant closings. If a person didn’t enjoy their job, their bosses would actually know about it and not hear about it for the first time when the person handed in their resignation and began working at another job almost immediately. On the reverse side, praise would flow ready as we recognize a job well done for what it is. We would not hesitate to acknowledge the contributions of a fellow employee that made our job so much easier. We would eagerly recommend our colleagues for a project or task that is better matched to their skillsets and goals instead of selfishly hoarding it to improve our own resume, network, or future opportunities. In an open and honest environment, partnerships and alliances between teams would flourish as we all would seek to maximize our value and usefulness by aligning with complimentary services. In an open and honest environment, no one would wonder about the value that they bring to their company because it would have already been communicated and agreed upon. Hidden agendas would disappear. Within the business environment, team members would trust each other and their leader implicitly. Does this sound far-fetched? Does this sound like business utopia? I contend that it’s not nearly as much of a pipe-dream as it may sound like. This type of an environment is possible and in today’s fast-changing business environment where the next crisis just lurks around the corner, this type of environment can become your company’s biggest competitive advantage. It’s in this type of environment that innovation and nimbleness can flourish and thrive. And the amazing thing about it is that this type of environment is not a hard selling point for your employees. They all want it; they just don’t believe that it’s possible because they haven’t seen. All it takes to start the process rolling is for a leader to be willing to take the first step and set the example. So what’s holding you back? I’m just going to speculate here, but could it be fear? Specifically, fear of:
· Litigation actions – might what we say be used against us by our employees, investors, or customers in a court of law? After all, our honesty doesn’t guarantee other people’s integrity.
· Competitive smearing – in this day of unhampered competitive onslaught, might what we say get leaked and be twisted and turned into weapons that our competitors (or media) use to destroy us?
· Personal financial run – amidst an onslaught of any of the previous external actions, might not I find myself out of job because of the sheer fact that I dared to speak the truth.
The sad fact is that all of the above are potential consequences of speaking the truth. We do live in a litigious society; competitive smearing does occur; and sometimes we suffer for doing the right thing. But I also know that the path we are headed on within business is not sustainable. Despite the proliferation of regulations, despite the billions invested in team-building and leadership development, and despite all the intention focused on strengthening internal controls and governance; team disunity continues to grow, employee dissatisfaction has not waned; and fraudulent activity is rampant. Clearly our current leadership processes are not working. It’s team for us to change our leadership styles. And I see only one way to go and that’s back to the open and honest communication upon which real relationships are built. You can comment on this blog or go to Petra’s Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petra-Learning-LLC/120474568065099). Join the conversation.