Guest post by Nancy K. Eberhardt:
Honest, purposeful, and respectful communication is one of the most effective leadership skills, yet CEOs who promote a culture of candor are still uncommon in business today. With an increased demand for transparency, building trust through authenticity is more critical than ever for individuals and organizations to keep their competitive edge. Here are four techniques that will help open the lines of communication with team members, and across your organization, to encourage valuable idea generation and information sharing:1. Avoid the Feedback Sandwich - When giving a performance evaluation where development is needed, do you typically start with what your employee does well, followed by areas for improvement, and wrap up with what you like about their work? At best, this approach can be confusing, leaving your employee focused only on the positives and missing the areas to be developed altogether. For the best results, it’s always best to provide honest feedback with clear direction on expectations. Keep in mind, direct feedback should be respectful, without ridicule, demeaning, or humiliation.
2. Listen More – No Need to Get Defensive - As a leader, do you get defensive when someone disagrees with you, or are you open to other ideas and approaches? When communicating, listening is just as important as speaking, perhaps even more so. Information is king and by listening, you have the opportunity to gain valuable perspectives about what’s working and what’s not. It helps to have all of the facts to make the best decision possible.3. Don’t Be a People Pleaser - We all want to be liked, but as the boss, we know that’s not always possible. Our job is to be respectful, yet also direct, clear, and purposeful. As a supervisor, if we try to “manage” other people’s feelings, we are not being effective. When you are honest with someone, you honor them. The key is to give honest feedback - both positive and negative - in a respectful manner. How it’s received is up to the recipient. Realize that we won’t please everyone all of the time, but being relied upon to be truthful with the company’s and your team’s best interest in mind will help to build trust and gain their respect.
4. Be Honest with Yourself - As a leader, we spend the majority of our time developing strategy and managing others. However, looking inward is just as important. Do you regularly consider your own performance? What can you do to be more effective? Do you ask for feedback on how to improve? Is everyone on board with a clear vision and specific objectives? By acknowledging your areas for growth, you encourage others to do the same.To be an authentic leader, you must create a culture of candor—communicating with honesty, clarity, purpose, and respect—to heighten credibility, inspire, and engage.
Nancy K. Eberhardt, President and CEO, Pathwise Partners is a Gazelles™ certified Executive Coach and consultant for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and boards. She is an expert in fostering authentic conversation, mutual respect, and new possibilities for breakthrough results, and author of the recent book, Uncommon Candor: A Leader's Guide To Straight Talk. Uncommon Candor: A Leaders Guide to Straight Talk. To learn more about how communicating with candor can help you achieve greater results, visit Pathwise Partners or contact Nancy at neberhardt@