Coming form an Asian background, we sometimes become over-cautious about the impact our communication makes on others, especially those senior to us. Therefore we end up saying things others want to hear, saying things that are not fully accurate or not saying things. This article tries to highlight some of the reasons behind this and some practical steps great leaders take to overcome it.
In my blog post on the 7th of May 2015 titled ‘How great is your team?’ I promised to go into details of the 11 different aspects that make a great team. The first five aspects regarding ‘Burning Platforms’, ‘Team Alignment around Critical Goals’, ‘Does your Team have Clearly Agreed Way of Working?’, ‘A Great Decision-Making Process for a Great Team’ and ‘Information Flow is Encouraged’, have already been posted in this blog. Here is the sixth installment regarding the 6th aspect; ‘Candour with Respect’’.
Great leaders do not just encourage candour with respect but they insist on it. Candour is a quality that is essential for a winning team. Jack Welch in his book ‘winning’ mentions that candour was a vital quality for any GE leader. Candour is about speaking out the truth with courage even if it would create conflict or hurt someone else. Good communicators also know how to select the right words, tonality and body language to make it as positive and productive as possible.
Great leaders insist on candour using the following mind-set, thinking and behaviours,
- Be realistic, not optimistic or pessimistic.
- Communicate realistically and insist that all team members do the same.
- Listens and insist that others listen, even with points of view they cannot agree with.
- They challenge others directly, using respectful words and insist others do the same.
- Appreciate those who challenge their thinking even if it is not accurate. They value the intent even if they do not agree with the content.
- Train people with the right communication skills to challenge others respectfully.
- Help others overcome mental barriers such as fear, shyness, lack of confidence etc. that may hold them back from being candid.
- Help others to overcome mental barriers related to the negative emotional impact of candid communication from others.
- Recognise and reward those who are respectfully candid in their communications.
- Ensure the ‘Values’ of the team includes ‘candour’, communicates it and ensure team members behave accordingly.
The above guidelines will help not only authentic communication but it will also help build a strong work culture and team that is required to deliver the strategic and operational business priorities of the organisation.