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One of the things business leaders often share with us is that they would like more honesty from people in their organisations. During employee listening exercises they want to know how people really feel and not be told things that they think they want to hear.
Ghandi once told a child’s mother “I cannot ask your son to stop the bad habit of eating too many sweets until I have dealt with my own bad habit first”. He started with looking inwards at himself and being honest about his own shortcomings before casting any judgment on the child.
In business, honesty is something that is often talked about, but this type of self-reflection and empathy is often missing. The bottom line is that as a business leader, you can’t expect others to be honest with you unless you are willing to be honest with yourself.
This requires self-awareness and the willingness to challenge our own abilities as leaders. It’s not about what we say but about what we do every day in terms of our behaviours – remember actions speak louder than words.
It requires leaders to accept their own shortcomings and be vulnerable in sharing them as opportunities for development. Gone are the days when business leaders need to be hero’s coming to everyone else’s rescue. Employees are looking for authenticity, vulnerability and real honesty – not just paying lip service to the word.
Leaders who are truly honest in their approach will accept their limitations, will openly share those with their team and seek opportunities to plug the gaps with a collective and collaborative approach, rather than trying to go it alone.
They will seek feedback regularly from all areas of the organisation and be curious to understand how things can be improved. They won’t be defensive, they will see any perceived negative commentary as a chance for growth and improvement.
They will accept when things don’t go to plan, not seeking to blame. They will give recognition to those around them when things go well, even if they were solely responsible for the success.
So, if you are looking for more honesty in your organisation, maybe it is time to look in the mirror and see how honest you are being. Commit to sharing more openly about your own deficiencies, show humility with your employees, and over time you will create the environment and the culture in your organisation that allows employees to do the same.
If you are a business leader and would like some support with your employee engagement, your mindset, or just a trusted ear of someone who has been in your shoes – get in touch. That’s how we roll.