July 2013 - Face Reality Head-On

How many times do you have “meetings after the meetings” when all the real issues get discussed? Unfortunately, this is the norm in many organizations as people avoid the “undiscussables” – the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but is too risky to openly acknowledge.  The truth is that thosereal issues, those elephants and undiscussables, are an essential part of your reality – whether it’s a non-performer who is considered untouchable, a credibility issue with the boss, or a disagreement about a strategy.  Maybe it’s the truth about your eroding market share, toxic culture or the fact that you’re losing good people.  Whatever the case, until you face reality head-on and are willing to put these delicate yet vital issues on the table, your leadership, team and business are at risk.

Today, resolve to step up and tackle these issues directly.  Remember, you are not out to win a popularity contest; you are there to serve your constituents in the most effective way possible. 

If you engage with humility, positive intent and a collaborative spirit, you can put the elephants out to pasture where they belong.

November 2012: Engage in straight-talk.

November brings an election of the 45th U.S. President and the conclusion of a campaign season that tested the best of us. Nowhere is there a better example of the need for straight-talk than in the political arena, where we are forced to fact-check everything that comes out of a candidate’s mouth. 

In this environment of information overload, people crave truth and simplicity – especially from their leaders. Credibility – not spin - is the highest form of influence, and a key way to achieve credibility is to tell it straight. Being honest, forthright and authentic in your communication helps you earn the trust of your colleagues and audiences. And a little trust goes a long way.

Straight-talk means delivering the truth even when it’s bad news. It means admitting our mistakes. It demands us to talk about consequences in very realistic terms. Straight-talk means ditching the jargon and buzzwords and refusing to hide behind qualifiers and hedge words. It calls upon us to be courageous and speak our truth in terms that a high schooler can understand.

Today, give yourself a gut-check.  Are you telling it straight? 

October 2011: Beware of the “Say-Do Gap.”

This insight is about credibility, which is all about trust – one of the most potent and fragile underpinnings of effective leadership.  When your actions are misaligned with your words, there is trouble, and it can turn into big trouble if you don’t recognize and correct it swiftly and genuinely.  Many leaders fall into the trap of making commitments or setting expectations prematurely – before they’re prepared to “walk the talk.”  Better to say nothing or delay the communication until you’re certain that your actions will ring true. 

It’s easier to recognize this disconnect in others than to see it in yourself.  It helps to have a few trusted advisors who will point out any say-do gaps that threaten your credibility.  Today, give yourself a say-do gap gut-check.  Step back and think about the expectations, promises and demands you’ve made of others, and examine whether you’re holding yourself to those same standards and delivering on your commitments.