Leadership Is about Honesty

When you look back over bosses you respected, bosses that were okay and bosses that were, how can I say it, needing a major reboot, what made them different?

Personally, I really liked a boss that was honest with me. It seemed they knew when I messed up, it was unintentional. Now that doesn’t mean they overlooked my failures but they were very quick and precise in pointing them out. But they also knew enough to use the mistake as a learning opportunity. In fact, they would not always tell me what I did wrong but took me through a process of self discovering my error and then they didn’t set out to fix or solve it they allowed me to do my own diagnosis and create a prescriptive path to correct things. Oh yes, it is easier to have someone else fix it or tell you how to fix it, but it is a more sustainable lesson when you are challenged to figure it out yourself.

But, this honesty isn’t just about performance, it is also about knowing what they know and helping others to understand what they know; knowledge transfer. Great bosses know that knowledge is power but only when knowledge is shared. A great boss and leader doesn’t use knowledge to look or act smart but to help everyone look and act smart.

Also, honesty is about motive; being very clear about how the company, the customer and the employee will benefit. Being very clear on the motive helps all to have a reason to be fully engaged and to execute expertly. It’s not that people don’t want to do their best, it’s more about understanding the motive and benefit of expert execution, it sets the framework for execution.

Speaking of execution, great bosses and leaders clearly communicate deadlines, milestones and then have processes to monitor progress. This is not micromanaging, it is about everyone knowing clearly what is expected, when its expected and why.

Also great bosses and leaders are very transparent with their purpose. This level of honesty is a skill of not just telling the truth but in living the truth. A great boss knows their every step, their every move is seen as an example to be followed and emulated. We know bosses are imperfect so when they mis-step a quick and heartfelt mea culpa is essential. Great leaders fess up to their faults, apologize and learn from them.

Great bosses and great leaders have one thing in common; honesty. Honesty about themselves and honesty with others. It’s is never about perfection.

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