It’s certainly not easy for leaders to stand up and speak their mind, especially when the prevailing opinion is the exact opposite.
Just as it takes a spark to light a fire, the leader can be the spark to light the fire of truth. Let’s be clear, the fire of truth is not ultimately destructive. Rather, it is a significant force of good for the environment of an organization. Although the truth fire burns, it burns those things which inhibit success. Therefore, the fire of truth becomes the essential contributor to the vitality and health of a productive culture.
It’s important that we not forgot that courageous leaders speak their mind by telling all their heart. It’s takes courage to speak up when something is unfair, unjust, or wrong. Or even by pointing out an idea, process, or person that could make the whole team more efficient and effective.
How leaders speak the truth is just as important as speaking it. It must be done honorably. After all, people are watching leaders speak the truth and will sense if it is done in a way that dignifies people. People deserve to hear the truth and they deserve to hear it in a way that elevates them. For instance, a leader once said to us, “I need to learn how to be tough on the problem, not tough on people.” Right! Speaking the hard truth in a way that honors people is a skill that leaders must develop.
Suffering in Silence
Anyone who has been in the workforce understands just how stressful work can be. There’s so much pressure! Pressure to perform. Pressure to meet deadlines. Pressure to be liked. There is a fear instilled within employees of speaking out and saying the wrong thing, and it’s to be expected. They want to keep their jobs and stay on the boss’s good side.
But that can often lead to employees not speaking up when they see a problem. They remain silent when someone does not meet an agreed upon deadline in order to avoid conflict. When those types of problems are left avoided and ignored, the infection spreads, and it’s hard to put a stop to it.
It’s up to you, as the leader, to speak up and encourage them to speak up. Set up a safe place to talk and set the tone of the conversation to let them air their thoughts and grievances. You might be surprised at what they have to say.
These actions give the opportunity to expose that which is hidden in the darkness to the infinite power of light. It starts with a spark of truth.
Once you listen to your team members and solicit this very important, highly coveted feedback, you will have a lot of information to work with. Parsing through that feedback and identifying what’s truthful and what’s not is the mark of a leader who is logical and considerate. But doing something with it? That’s what makes a courageous leader.
The Advantages of Speaking Out
You’ve faced reality and you’ve talked to your team. Now it’s time to speak the truth. Unfortunately, this means hard, real, uncomfortable conversations. Even if this truth is unpopular or opens a big ‘ole can of worms, those issues need to be brought to the table.
When truth is spoken, then you might notice:
1. Respect from your team – Their suffering has been voiced! At last! Light has exposed the darkness. And they have you to thank for it. They will be more open about in the future. They will see your commitment to building a healthy culture and eventually come to believe that your commitment to truth does not waver.
2. Real change begins to take place – Like we said, one spark starts a fire. You cause that spark by speaking up. Once you do, real change can start to happen. We find that people are just waiting for someone to tell the truth. Leaders step into this opportunity.
3. Culture improves – Look, this isn’t rocket science. Once change happens for the better, productivity improves, trust is built, and negativity has less of an impact. Culture thrives!
Need help on starting these conversations? Contact Nexecute and get the coaching you need to step up and be a courageous leader.