Are You a Candid Leader? 4 Ways to Build Clarity, Trust, and Competitive Advantage

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 –
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

2. Listen More – No Need
to Get Defensive –
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

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

Nancy K.
, 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
more about how communicating with candor can help you achieve
greater results, visit Pathwise
or contact Nancy at