July 23, 2012

In this age of reinvention, it is time to speak about candor. For a lifetime of working in organizations, I have been asking leaders, managers, and boards of directors:

 “What is it you want?”
“If you could wave a magic wand what would you wish for?”
“What would you like in your company and among your colleagues that you don’t have now?”

Consistently, I hear these three responses:

  1. Faster, better results.
  2. Enhanced connections (communications/teamwork/relationships) with clients, boards, investors, management or associates.
  3. People telling the truth – to me, about me, about what needs changing in the organization, etc.

The first two items seem obvious.

The third one, “people telling the truth” warrants more clarification. Exploration with these leaders generated the following questions they want answers to daily:

  • What is really going on in that division?
  • What matters most to my board/employees/senior management (fill in the blank with the group of your choice)?
  • What is broken and what are your suggestions for fixing it?
  • Why are you upset about the changes?
  • Why are desired results not happening?
  • Am I delivering on your expectations?
  • Why are you not delivering on my expectations?

Oh, and one more thing, these leaders want the unvarnished truth. Not wrapped in nice words or softened. As Sgt. Joe Friday is well-known for saying in the TV show Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

Do you remember sitting with parents or grandparents watching the TV classic Dragnet in the 1950’s-60’s? Or perhaps you are a fan of the TV and movie remakes over the last 30 years – or the DVD releases as recently as last year? Have you ever repeated this iconic Joe Friday statement “Just the facts. Just the facts.” at work or at home?

Many of you report that this desire for a direct, forthright conversation would be a breath of fresh air in the workplace and at home. This blog Uncommon Candor (and the book scheduled for release in early-2013) is devoted to stories of Uncommon Candor.

Have you wondered how you can cause new opportunities and velocity for your successful careers and companies through straight talk and forthright engagement? Do you ever speak of breakdowns that occur from a lack of candor in the workplace resulting in careers derailed, outcomes never realized and organizational dysfunction? Do you have moments in your personal lives, with partners or children or neighbors where direct speaking would make a tremendous difference in obtaining your desired results– and save everyone a lot of worry and unproductive actions? The stories are many and each provides new learnings for exercising Uncommon Candor.

Uncommon Candor will share stories from corporations, small business, nonprofits, the military, educational institutions , the public/elected sector, celebrities, our homes and our communities – where straight talk was helpful and also when it was missing .

We also welcome your own stories of Uncommon Candor or lack thereof …and the results that followed.