Create a culture of candor
In their article, What’s Needed Next: A Culture of Candor James O’Toole and Warren G. Bennis argue that rather than just measuring leaders’ effectiveness on how much wealth they create for their investors they should also be assessed on their ability to build businesses that are economically, ethically and socially sustainable. They see the first step in achieving this as creating e a culture of candor.
“Companies can’t innovate, respond to stakeholder needs, or run efficiently unless the people inside them have access to timely, relevant information. Increasing transparency can be an uphill battle against human nature, however. The obstacles are numerous: macho executives who don’t listen to their subordinates or who punish them for bringing bad news; leaders who believe that information is power and hoard it; groupthink among team members who don’t know how to disagree; boards that fail to question charismatic CEOs. Nevertheless, leaders can take steps to nurture transparency. By being open and candid, admitting their errors, encouraging employees to speak the truth, and rewarding contrarians, executives can model the kind of conduct they want to see. Training employees to handle unpleasant conversations with grace also will break down barriers to honest communication.”
So if you agree that a culture of candor is the basis for sustainable business, consider:
- How are you modelling that open and honest communication yourself?
- What issue is nagging at the back of your mind right now that you are avoiding raising?
- What specific actions are you taking to support your staff in speaking up?