How To Be An Honest Leader

How To Be An Honest Leader

Leadership | Posted by - September 18, 2017 at 1:00 am

Why is it so hard to speak what you feel? There are a number of potential barriers.

Fear. There is fear of reprisal. We often think this fear may be relegated to the more junior ranks. Not true. It all depends upon the culture you, as a leader, create and, most importantly, promote. If you are the CEO then your level of transparency will dictate how your team and their directs negotiate what they need. I work with organizations that engage in transformative change. When you don’t know, your job is to say you don’t know. Filling in the blanks because you feel pressured to do so will create a climate of mistrust, especially when the ensuing data says otherwise. Always, always remember that you set the tone and all behaviours follow – the good and bad.

Not knowing. Why do you feel so pressured to have all the answers? Remember that the best leaders surround themselves with experts. They operate on the principal of recognizing niche areas with specific skill sets. Technology, for example, must be a partner to your business and create the necessary infrastructure to generate the right kind of data, systems and processes. Unless you are steeped in technology and operated as a CTO before becoming a CEO you must turn to your resident experts. This is true whether it be technology, finance, distribution, etc. 

Power mongering. Huge mistake. Once your team figures this out, you are guaranteed to create a you versus them mentality. Make sure you act as a grown-up – share the limelight. Nobody got anywhere all by themselves. Maybe this is a sobering thought, but it sure is the truth.

One collective agenda. Fractured and siloed teams promote multiple agendas. Make sure you clearly outline the overall vision and how each area or line of business is dependent upon each other. If you play favourites you are sure to reinforce a culture of unhealthy competition and misguided communication, and ultimately each person will be out for him or herself.

Need to be nice. I consulted for an organization where the CEO would fire members of his senior team. He would then go home at night, feel bad and hire them back the next day. He believed all was restored, but of course it wasn’t; the culture was one of mistrust. Employees did not feel safe and were never quite sure of their manager’s intentions. Engagement scores were at an all time low. As a leader you must make tough decisions. Explain clearly the business rationale. Believe it or not this can be done with heart and you preserve your integrity.

In all relationships, both personal and business, the platform must be built on trust and integrity. Without these two very basic components all your relationships are bound to be unhealthy, short lived, and in essence unprofitable.

Tags: honest leadership, leadership, hr, cindy wahler, profiles, honesty

Cindy Wahler
Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in succession planning and talent management. For additional information or to get in touch with Dr. Wahler, please click here.
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