The Truth Of It

I regularly find myself wishing that people could get to “the truth of it” more often than they do. In organizations, there is an overabundance of hidden agendas, talking around things, not getting to the point, sidebar conversations and reluctance to address things directly. Much of this comes down to manipulation – truth does not serve someone’s purpose – or fear- if you speak the truth, you may get burned.

Of course there is risk in speaking the truth, but organizations could create cultures and environments that minimize this risk. In doing so, they will find that efficiency and collaboration increases. What are some ways to advance a message that truth is welcome? Develop some guidelines for positive communication. I found the book Crucial Conversations  to have good advice on how to communicate positively on sensitive subjects. Do not admonish or penalize team members for speaking the truth. Expose manipulative action and agendas and let team members know they are not welcome.

In many organizations, these are huge changes and blithely telling the truth without a supportive culture does have risks. Start slowly and go step by step. If you can get upper management’s attention on this, do it. Cultivate a truthful culture for your own team. Start in non-threatening ways. For example, creating a safe environment for honest feedback.

There is wisdom in the phrase that the truth shall set you free. Go for “the truth of it” in your organization.



Two Managers Heard in Starbucks: Leadership Not Evident

Last week, I stopped into Starbucks for about a half hour while in-between meetings. I settled in near two managers working on their laptops, talking on their cells and communicating with each other. It was clear they worked for the same company and interacted in their work. They seemed rather regular for managers, until one of them got a phone call from a subordinate. Hearing the manager’s end of the conversation, I found him to be dismissive and disrespectful to his subordinate. After the call, he said to the other manager (who appeared to be at a higher level of their organization), “Did you hear that call? ” It would have been hard not to, as his voice was raised during the call, as if he wanted others to hear. He then proceeded to criticize and disparage the person he had been talking to, smiling and appearing to think he was building camaraderie with the other manager. To me, he looked small.

It made me pause, witnessing the disrespect shown by the manager and the use of that disrespect of a subordinate to bond, or look superior, with the other manager.

Leading demands respectful treatment of each individual you work with; especially when interacting in view of others in an organization. Using someone to make yourself feel better, just doesn’t fit. Get over it.

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