What is one of the most difficult, yet valuable roles you can play for your organization? Being a truth teller. 

I have shared David Ambler’s Guidelines for Working with Students (People) before, but it bears repeating. One of his tenants:
Be honest with yourself and others. It does no good to tell students (people) what you think they want to hear.

In an organization, worse that telling the leader what you think they want to hear is telling them nothing, which is what happens when the previous sharing is repeatedly disregarded or causes negative implications to the one who spoke. The truth teller often has battle scars, but it doesn’t mean they should retreat. 

Leaders should embrace counsel that pushes boundaries. It is almost certain that the leader doesn’t see the full picture and should recognize that he/she needs others to contribute their perspective and pieces of information. Mostly, the leader needs people around who aren’t afraid to disagree or point out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. 

If the leader starts with the assumption that they are blind to the full reality, it makes it much easier for them to hear what is being said. Listening is a skill that is more difficult than speaking, especially when the message makes the leader uncomfortable or challenges the presumptive path.

It requires bravery to share the truth and courage to listen to those speak it. What are you doing to create an environment of valor?

beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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