May 22, 2015

Christine Comaford – author of SmartTribes, contributor to FORTUNE Magazine, and applied neuroscience expert – spoke at the FORTUNE Gazelles International Coaches Summit last week in Orlando. The relevance of candor to her perspective and her work is unquestionable and profound.

The premise of Comaford’s book – and her consulting business – is about moving people out of a “critter state,” and into our “smart state.”  Comaford says the “critter state” is caused when leaders say and do things that create unconscious fears and keep people stalled in a “primitive fight, flight, or freeze mode” where they are motivated by one concern: What will keep me safest?  Maybe you have experienced that mindset at some point in your career, perhaps from the unproductive “feedback sandwich,” a belittling review, or uncomfortable secrecy.

Candor – communication that is open and direct, honest and respectful – helps remove these fight, flight or freeze habits from the workplace.

We as humans crave transparency – open communications and feedback, fairness and accountability structures. ~ Christine Comaford

Candor also plays an unquestionable role in helping teams shift into Comaford’s optimal “smart state,” where people “have greater access to their own creativity, innovation, higher consciousness, and emotional engagement.” This shift into the more productive “smart state” produces higher-performing teams and ultimately, greater success.

Even within Comaford’s own organization, candor is a high priority. She defines the first two company values as communication and integrity:

  • Communication: We are highly communicative and believe this ensures alignment and connection.
  • Integrity: Our word is our bond.

The first rule of candor is to be true to ourselves.  Whether you are on the team or leading the team, consider how you might help shift the tone from fight or flight to connected and engaged – and therefore, success.