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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Tell the Truth

In a corporate environment the truth is often a victim of power and the fear of it. That's as unnecessary as it is unfortunate. When people feel that they can't tell the truth to their boss, staff or peers it usually comes out of unfounded fear such as:

1. Afraid to make the boss mad
2. Afraid to look bad in front of others
3. Afraid to offend someone and deal with the tension or conflict.

Now here's the problem; organizations in the information economy live or die based upon good decisions. Good decisions depend upon having good information, which can't exist when people aren't candid with one another.

Coming from secular business almost ten years ago I was surprised that one of the biggest issues in Christian organizations is hearing the truth. Between the fear factor and the desire to be nice, the truth often suffers.

In my role I have to sometimes say unpopular things to people in power. For me there's no escaping that obligation and it just comes with the job. If I hear of an issue that, upon reporting it, will anger an executive I can't just let it go. If it festers and causes problems down the line that reflects negatively on me. So my duty is to sometimes say things that aren't well received but I always do it.

Now here's a big Ah-Ha for you:

I've never lost a job. I've said some really frank things to people who could have fired me on the spot and it has never happened.

What I've found is that really good leaders have the ability to take themselves and their emotions out of a situation and see it for what it is. Even when they don't, they didn't get to where they are by letting their emotions get the best of them. They have always, to date, appreciated the loyalty and candor even if sometimes they had to calm down a day or two before they appreciated it.

No matter what your position, if you want to succeed you can't be so afraid to lose your job that you fail to do your job. Your career, and the place where you work, will be the better for loyal, calm, impartial truth.

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