Lousy leaders build mediocre organizations because they dance around issues. But, remarkable is the result of difficult conversations done skillfully.
Mediocrity arrives when difficult conversations are avoided.
Why do lousy leaders suck at tough conversations?
Pretending and transparency:
The false face lousy leaders wear invites others to be false too. Lousy leaders reject personal transparency in favor of pretending. But, everyone knows that no one has it all together.
Tough conversations are best received when given by imperfect leaders. Lousy leaders cling to superiority by putting on false faces. But, transparency opens the door to tough conversations.
Would you rather have a tough conversation with a superior or someone who understands journey, pursuit, and struggle? Lousy leaders talk down because they’re pretending to be superior.
Leadership transparency — acknowledging pursuit and struggle — builds foundations for difficult conversations. Transparent leaders say, “I’m in the battle too.” Skillful leaders build strong connections that enable and withstand difficult conversations.
Transparency builds strong connection between honest people.
Dangers of rejecting personal transparency:
- Environments filled with posturing and pretending.
- Stress caused by wearing a false face. Truthfulness frees, even if it’s tough.
- Fear of failure.
- Wasted time and energy.
- Lack of creativity and initiative.
- Blame and finger pointing.
- Excuse making.
- Be transparent before tough conversations. Build open environments where imperfection is normal and expected.
- Be transparent during tough conversations. If it feels awkward, say so, but stay focused on the goal.
- Limit transparency by what’s useful for the organization. Transparency isn’t an excuse to use your organization as a therapy group. Open up when it’s helpful. Express other personal issues elsewhere.
- Be transparent with your personal pursuit of excellence.
- Use transparency to connect, not condescend.
- Express your hopes and concerns for the person and your relationship, after the conversation.
- Wait for progress before sharing personal struggles.