Often, leaders have to deliver news or information that people find upsetting. To shield themselves from the potential fallout, they typically say some variation of “don’t shoot the messenger.”
Imagine a very different scenario. A humble leader stands before the crowd and says:
“Today, you’re going to want to shoot the messenger. And if you feel that way, that won’t be surprising. As a company, we screwed up. We projected growth numbers that we are not going to hit. As a result, we have to cut back on overtime and the bonus payouts we normally do this time of year. This is not your fault, and unfortunately you are going to be impacted even though it’s not your fault. We anticipate this cutback to last two months, and I’ll be updating you weekly as to any changes in this projection. Now, here is what we’re going to do to keep this from happening again…”
The practice of Radical Accountability requires rigorous honesty to rectify problems, learn from mistakes, and avoid repeating those mistakes again. It mandates that leaders “say what they mean, without saying it mean” as they tell the truth, even when that truth may be hard to hear.
By engaging in this type of honest and open communication, it allows everyone to be part of the solution instead of a party to blame and accusations.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Incorporate “say what you mean, just don’t say it mean” anytime you have to deliver news that may be hard for people to hear. Engage everyone, through compassionate communication, in being part of the solution instead of remaining stuck in the problem.
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