I have been spending a lot of time recently reflecting on honesty… it seems to me that there is a deficit in the honesty that exists between leaders and their teams in many organisations.
As I have reflected on this I don’t think that dishonesty lies behind this lack of candour. It seems that as leaders we are just afraid to have honest and straight conversations for fear of a) upsetting people; b) fear of implications; c) fear of being seen as a “boss” with all it’s negative connotations.
It feels that in all the talk about leadership and the need be inspiring and positive and motivational something has got lost. One of the fundamental roles of a great leader is to be clear on expectations. Leaders set the standard and if they are NOT happy to operate with candour and genuine, sometimes direct, honesty then how can they possibly set the expectations?
If you look at the work by John Maxwell on the 5 levels of leadership the base level is Positional. Rightly so Maxwell describes how as a leader we need to move beyond using our position as the only reason why others follow us. Servant based leadership requires us to push beyond old models of authority to gain buy in, generate trust and influence others to perform.
What seems to get missed by too many is that one of the basic services we can give to those who follow us is clarity over what good and bad performance looks like. The less honest and candid we are the fuzzier and ambiguous standards become.
It is a fundamental and basic role of any leader to express, openly and honestly the standards and values that are expected of the team they lead. If you don’t stand for anything then how will anyone who follows you know what they stand for either? Standing up for the expectations you set does not turn you from leader to boss – on the contrary it is the foundation on which your leadership needs to rest!
Many leaders throw up the argument of I want to demonstrate trust and treat people like adults and of course every great leader will and does. Holding someone to account around key expectations you have of your team does not require our controlling parent ego’s to jump out – we can do this very well and appropriately in adult and still be the inspiring leader we all aspire to! Being clear and having candour does not equal being a B*****d / B***h!!!
The reality is that candour – sharing our honest views of another is a gift from the heart from a leader to their team. It is possibly the most important thing you can share with your team.
If we want to lead in a way that creates growth and learning we need to increase candour and honesty and develop the confidence to share our views and opinions in a more open and direct way. Set you plan this week to increase your level of candour and see what difference it makes…