Leading in today’s highly competitive world can often result in the perception that all is perfect in the organization. According to Keith Ferrazzi (2009), nothing is ever perfect and it is the job of the leader to be open and honest in creating a transparent work environment where issues are not sugarcoated. Ferrazzi defines candor as “the ability to engage in healthy, caring, purposeful criticsm – as opposed to turf wars, nitpicking, or simply turning our backs and not communicating about issues at all” (2009, p. 88). The author continues to describe the lack of candor as the most powerful cause of mediocre performance in the corporate world. Successful organizations work in an environment of open, honest, robust, and respectful communication.
In today’s competitive times, there seems to be value in full disclosure at all levels of the organization. Full disclosure allows others to be aware of issues and allows for a change in behavior. Secondly, full disclosure saves time and money. The truth will always come out in the end so cut to the chase and save the hassle of trying to cover up, avoid, or alter the truth. Thirdly, organizations where there is a strong absence of candor are just not sustainable. Long term success rarely happens in organizations where relationships are weak because there is no trust.
One way successful leaders can create an environment of candor is to select and surround yourself with people you can respect and trust. Being candid with people you cannot trust can be dangerous to the organization. Secondly, create opportunities for candid feedback. Manage critical conversations so that candid discussions are allowed and respected. Third, make it clear that any feedback you get is a gift and is valuable. When others realize you value their feedback, you will get more of it and the relationship will strengthen. The fourth way to promote candor in any organization is to acknowledge our own weaknesses. Own the fact that we are not perfect and be ready to reveal your imperfections. Fifth, make sure other people understand how you will use their feedback. Sixth, don’t tell other people only what you want to hear. Tell others what is critical to the success of the organization. Center critical conversations on meeting the mission/vision of the organization. Seventh, ask specific questions of others so as to focus the conversation on specific topics. Finally, make sure candid conversations are mutual. As you give candid feedback to others, be willing to receive candid feedback.
Finding positive and healthy ways in which leaders can develop an environment of candor is what sets successful leaders from unsuccessful managers. Leaders who promote and facilitate candid conversations are leaders are very aware of the needs, strengths, and issues within the workplace.
Baggerly-Hinojosa (2010). Are you a 10? The ten characteristics of a servant leader. Lulu.com
Ferrazzi, K (2009). Who’s got your back? Broadway Books: New York.