I had a lengthy conversation with a coaching client the other day, a man who is also a good friend now. We were talking about how frequently people in business rely on old-fashioned Bull-___ when they get into a challenging situation. We had both read the Jack and Suzy Welch book “Winning” from 2005. My favorite section in that great book was the section on Candor.
Candor is like a magic elixir, it makes everything happen faster and work better. Our society has seemed to become increasingly comfortable with spin-doctoring and walking back from untrue statements and assertions. I have come to the conclusion that old-fashioned B-S is like a governor on the engine of innovation and progress, and that without candor the ability for a team to contribute their best thinking and ideas becomes next to impossible. Candor is the lubricant that makes teams tick, and helps get more people contributing their best ideas, and encourages the team to amplify each idea as it enters the fray.
Recognize that candor is not easy, and it is not instantaneous. If you want to implement candor in your organization to turbo-charge your team, you must realize that it will take some time for the team to trust that the old school ways are gone, and the new school is one of ridiculous candor and an open challenge. It will take time for your team to adjust to candor, because it wasn’t present in high enough measure before in your organization, and it darned sure isn’t prevalent enough in our society. The lack of candor around us has become institutionalized, and it takes time to establish the new habit.
Here’s what makes it worth the effort. When you honor candor, and nurture it, and encourage it, it will sneak out from behind the curtain slowly, coyly, and nervously. As your team recognizes that you’re seriously committed to candor, and they see you respecting those who demonstrate it, and they feel you rewarding them for living it when conflict shows up, all will embrace it and welcome it. You will have to seek out candor and challenge your team to dig into conflict constructively. You will have to protect candor when it is new like a candle in the wind. It’s worth it. Every person on the team will become better when the culture shifts and people are engaging in conflict and dialog with constructive intent. Every team becomes better when the team is strengthened by hardening themselves by facing honest criticism that leads to self-improvement.
What do you think? Are you ready to grab a shovel and clean out the barn? Can we move past the B-S, at last, and embrace a new era of open and honest candor that will stun the team at first, but become more natural as it takes hold? I strongly recommend that you do. My client has been encouraging his team to embrace candor, and his business has been energized as the team has become increasingly excited to see nasty problems confronted head on, and solved when once they were danced around. Candor has that effect on a team. Turbo-charge your team, turn candor loose on your problems!
Michael Beach is an Executive Development Advisor and CEO Coach in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, working with growing Medium-Sized Companies and their leadership teams. Michael has developed an innovative curriculum to aid companies in developing their next generation of emerging leaders guaranteeing their ability to scale and grow profitably and ensure sustainable success. Michael would love to hear about your experiences with implementing candor and constructive conflict management in your firm, tell us your story by adding a comment about your journey.