Brutal Honesty

There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away. – Winston Churchill

When it comes to leading a successful business, the old saying still rings true, “Honesty is the best policy.” Being dishonest with your team will eventually lead to miscommunications, mistakes, lack of trust, frustrations and eventual destruction of your “good” business.

As humans, we sometimes believe that withholding information or encouraging false hope is best, whether it’s good information – expanding a business, adding a business partner, etc. – or bad information – financial situations, communication problems, etc. We all have big dreams for our businesses, but those dreams will only come to fruition in the light of truth and appropriate, brutal honesty.

The Facts of Life

… Great companies display distinctive forms of disciplined thought – one of which is the brutal facts of reality.

Being brutally honest comes naturally for some people. We might dislike these people. But maybe they have the right idea… when their honesty isn’t being used for evil. Just like the quote from Winston Churchill at the beginning of this blog, no one – you or your team – deserves to have “false hope soon to be swept away.” You want to have your brutal honesty used in a constructive way.

When a business starts with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth… right decisions often become self-evident.

These harsh facts of life bring to light problems that lie within our businesses and lives that are hindering our growth. No one wants to admit their own problems or their business’s problems, but once these parasites are identified, that’s when the healing and growing process can begin.

Play nice.

When I use the word brutally honest, I certainly do not mean to tell your coworker if you do not approve of their latest hair style. This blunt honesty is to be used to boldly identify problems within your organization, bring the situation to the attention of the entire team and work together to correct the problem and move the business forward toward greatness.

It’s usually difficult to find the balance between constructive, brutal honesty and being condescending to your team. How do we find this balance that will eventually allow our business to Be More?

1. Lead with questions to truly understand the problem.

2. Communicate with and listen to your team calmly without coercion.

3. Avoid placing the blame. You all are a TEAM – you work together, learn together and succeed together. Continually build each other up throughout these trials of brutal honesty.

4. Create an environment open to discussion – allow your team to voice their concerns as well. They may see a problem or a solution that you missed.

Have you experienced the harsh reality of brutal honesty? Were you the one giving the brutal honesty or were you receiving it? What was your biggest challenge? I hope these thoughts can help move your business from good to great and help you continue to Be More.