Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth! – Buddha
Have you had a time when someone, be it a colleague or friend who was not quite performing or was behaving in ways that was below par?
And yet you found yourself minimising, negating or making excuses for their behaviour? You would not be the only one! I too have done this on many occasions, much to my own detriment.
Well – we do this for a number of “good” reasons because seeing, acknowledging and taking action on the truth, as we experience it, isn’t always comfortable.
Let me give you a work example.
Leader denial and lack of accountability
Some years back, I coached a senior executive whose direct report was very good at ‘hitting the targets’ but his modus operandi left a lot to be desired.
The feedback and “air-waves” from his team and others consistently was that the he was a bully.
Teamwork, collaboration, empathy, ‘developmental conversations’ did not figure in this person’s language.
What was present was manipulation, veiled and not so veiled threats, pressure tactics and even downright lying when it suited the direct report, which was often.
Despite leading a dysfunctional team with lots of turnover and staff rotation, my coachee – his boss – would not fully acknowledge the situation.
Why was this, you may ask?
Well – for starters, this meant having a courageous conversation by my executive who liked being seen as the ‘nice guy.’ Secondly, he liked ‘being liked’ and had developed quite a ‘chummy’ relationship with the direct report). As he said, the direct report did deliver and made him “look good” to his superiors!
So, my client continued to ignore the behaviour, making excuses and minimising his direct report’s behaviour including the feedback that he was receiving from others.
As is usually the case, this state of affairs did not last for too long.
With the arrival of a new CEO who had zero tolerance for such behaviour, the division was subsequently restructured including the departure of both the senior executive and the direct report.
The remaining team members and colleagues who had been most impacted finally experienced relief as they felt freed (without the toxic behaviour) to get on with the job they loved. Furthermore, with the new CEO and a more transparent culture, some of the team members really got to shine and were later promoted to different roles.
In any relationship, be it business or personal, the first step is to see and acknowledge things and situations as they really are.
I totally understand that this can be challenging sometimes. The reasons behind this are many including the need to be liked, being seen as the ‘expert’ at all times, having a sense of control and belonging, status and ‘looking good.’
We settle for “business as is” because seeing the truth typically means that some courageous conversation or change is required. Human wiring does not allow for change to be embraced easily.
The brain carves grooves based on repeated thinking and actions and “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Change may not be easy but it is not impossible either. Otherwise all we might as well all turn the lights off now!
There is much to be gained by seeing and addressing the truth of a situation that is detrimental to others and us.
By having that courageous conversation, more possibilities and options open up then when we stay stuck on one way of being. It also allows the other party to share in a way they may have felt unable to before.
At an individual level – by acknowledging and seeing the truth in the greater context is coming back to your core self. A soulful act!
At a business level – the team, staff morale and company values and reputation all get strengthened. And we know what committed, loyal and engaged team members translate to – higher productivity and ultimately profitability.
And most of all, it makes you a more inspired, authentic and “weighty” leader worth following! Just remember,
“Behaviour is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image.” – Goethe
Make it a positive one for you!