Are you a leader that appreciates the truth? Are you a leader that not only allows but also encourages your people to tell you the truth?
Your answer to those two questions doesn’t really matter. The only question, and answer, that really matters is this one: Do your people trust you enough to tell you the truth?
The truth be told, in way too many organizations the answer to that last question is a resounding NO!
Here’s a sad fact of leadership that I’ve discovered through the years. Many, many leaders would rather be told what they want to hear rather than be told the actual truth.
These leaders believe a difference of opinion or a challenge to one of their ideas is a challenge to their authority. They treat it as a sign of disrespect and they have been known to hold a grudge for a long time. As a result, they not only limit the potential of their organizations today, they limit it for many tomorrows too.
They “teach” their people that the only truth that matters is the one that the “leader” wants to hear. Leaders drop phrases into conversations like “let’s be careful” and “I think you’re wrong” in order to slow down or even silence the dissenting, truthful voices.
If I want to give a leader the benefit of the doubt I would say they aren’t even aware they are doing that but I’m afraid in many cases it is absolutely intentional. It’s just easier for some leaders to handle the truth as they want it to be rather than the truth as it actually is.
Here’s an interesting check on what kind of leader you really are: when was the last time you made a major (or even a minor) change in a decision based on input from your team? Asked another way; when was the last time you allowed your team, or a member of your team, to overrule you?
If it’s been more than 30 days then either they aren’t telling you the truth or you aren’t listening. Either way, the outcome is the same, the truth has likely died at your hands.
Have you ever heard the saying “great minds think alike?” Well, it’s completely wrong, great minds most certainly do not think alike. If you have a room full of smart people then you also have a room full of different opinions and thoughts. If your people are too timid to share those opinions and thoughts then YOU are failing as a leader.
If one of your goals of leadership is to build more leaders then don’t just allow your people to be truthful with you, encourage it, reward it, and most of all show them that there will be no repercussions.