When Brutal Honesty is a Brutal Mistake

When Brutal Honesty is a Brutal Mistake

Some people wear it like a badge of honor, something that’s part of their identity. 

“I’m brutally honest.”

“I say it like it is.”

I get the appeal. We generally appreciate honesty and candid communication. We sometimes equate “brutal honesty” with strength of character or integrity.

But the truth is much more complicated. 

Sometimes—many times, I’d argue

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Four Reasons Why Leaders Should Write More

Four Reasons Why Leaders Should Write More

As I write this, I have the urge to check Facebook and LinkedIn. I feel the need to see if there’s anything new in the news. I want to minimize the page upon which I’m typing and look for new e-mail. 

I also know that such satisfying those desires, in a way, is a drug that’s killing purposeful thinking and thoughtful action for millions of leaders around the world. 

And it’s only getting worse, with intentional efforts to make these distractions ever more addictive increasing daily. Web sites need faithful eyeballs to boost their revenue. 

Yet I argue that leaders must practice distraction-free existence, even if just for a short time every day. One way to do this is

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Keep Your People Informed

Keep Your People Informed

By nature, we humans continually seek to reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity around us. We’re all different to some degree, of course, but we generally like to know what to expect each day, and we like to have clarity about what’s going on. 

As a result, we’re information seekers. 

We look for cues in what people say and how they act. We try to figure out what’s important and what’s not important in part through the words and actions of others. 

And when we don’t have much information to go on—for example, when our direct supervisors don’t communicate with us on a regular basis—we tend to fill in the gaps. 

We guess. 

We assume.

We interpret—and sometimes contribute to—rumors among our peers. We do our best to reduce our own uncertainty and ambiguity. Sometimes that works. 

Sometimes it doesn’t. 

That’s why

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Bad Team Conversations? You Might Be Why

Bad Team Conversations? You Might Be Why

Like many well-intentioned executives and managers I’ve met, it’s likely that you genuinely want to engage your team; you want them to feel like active participants in the decision-making process. You know that you don’t have all of the answers. 

And when a problem arises that needs to be solved, you gather your team together.  

“So, how are we going to solve this? I want to hear your ideas.” 

Silence. 

Then, someone cautiously speaks up, offering a suggestion. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s certainly not particularly creative or original. 

A few more team members chime in, providing slight variations on the first person’s ideas. But the ideas are hardly flowing freely. And they’re staring at the table, out the window or up where the wall meets the ceiling—anywhere but at you. 

You’re left wondering,

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Why People Just Don’t “Get It”

Why People Just Don’t “Get It”

“This is important,” I said. “But it’s not hard, and I only need you to do this for a minute.”

He looked at me from under his furrowed brow, not convinced. 

“Please. Everyone else is smiling for the picture, and we want you to smile too.”

Still no luck. Just a strange noise of stubborn disobedience, something akin to a growl mixed with a whimper. 

Such went my pathetic attempt at 

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Want to Communicate Change? Do THIS.

Want to Communicate Change? Do THIS.

“Undercommunicating the vision by a factor of ten” is one of the reasons why organizational transformation efforts fail according to John Kotter, a prolific writer on various facets of leadership and organizational change and professor emeritus at the Harvard Business School (Kotter, 1995: 63). 

And as we all know—and as Kotter acknowledged—“Communication comes in both words and deeds, and the latter are often the most powerful form” (Kotter, 1995: 64).

Namely, actions speak louder than words. 

So if you want to communicate change in your organization,

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