Posted by: drewdice | November 18, 2010

The Kind Truth

A while back, we discussed James Clawson’s book, Level Three Leadership, and some of what Clawson notes as key attributes of leaders:

Seeing what needs to be done
Understanding ALL the underlying forces at play in a situation
– Having the courage to initiate action to make things better

I agree wholeheartedly that what Clawson outlines are critical for great leadership. At the same time, I’d like to introduce a concept that another one of my favorite authors, Patrick Lencioni, shared in his recent fable, Getting Naked. That concept is “Telling the Kind Truth”.

If you have not yet read Getting Naked, I highly recommend it. Among other things, you will gain a deeper understanding of what it means to connect with clients and how to think about delivering value. As with many things I recommend to you, this fable has business and personal application.

So, Telling the Kind Truth. Business leaders, consultants, sales professionals, spouses, friends….all have at least one thing in common: at some point (many points, actually) each person will find herself in a position where they would/should/could share news that may not be what another person wants to hear. Consider:

– A sales person telling a client that what the client feels she needs is, in fact, not what she needs
– A sales person telling a client that the sales person’s company will not fill the client’s need
– A spouse telling her partner that she recommends a different way of thinking about something
– A leader telling a team member that the team member will not get (the promotion, her idea advanced)

Point is, in each case, the “teller” has to deal with an innate fear of loss. This could be:

– Loss of business
– Loss of friendship
– Loss of trust
– Loss of love

From a business application standpoint (I’ll let you work through the non-business side), leaders need to create environments in the organization where, first and foremost, trust exists. Trust is the foundation for everything in a winning culture, including being able to tell the kind truth. With trust, I, as a team member believe:

– I can give my opinion without fear of feeling foolish
– I can voice concerns without fear of repercussion
– I can disagree with coworkers and/or bosses without fear of anger or grudges

As you might gather from the phrase, Telling the Kind Truth, is not about being a jerk and obnoxiously disagreeing with everything people say. It is, among other things, artfully sharing where you are in relation to a particular topic, and having the trusting relationship with another person(s) to be able to openly share your view and opinion, all pointed at helping the other person(s) gain a better outcome for herself.

Practicing this art elevates levels of trust, builds connection between individuals, shows sincerity in approach and concern for one another, and helps to create long lasting, mutually respectful and profitable business and personal relationships.

When was the last time you told someone The Kind Truth?


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