Employees Can Handle the Truth: Take an Honest Approach to Leadership

September 25th, 2013 | Posted by Scott Stiver in Leadership Development
Employees Can Handle the Truth: Take an Honest Approach to Leadership

By: Scott Stiver

When the going gets tough, there are few things harder than being honest. It's never comfortable to look a difficult situation right in the eye, and for organization leaders, facing adversity is all the more challenging. After all, they have to communicate problems to business partners, shareholders and employees, which can be a nerve-wracking process. Learning how to effectively guide an enterprise in these circumstances is critical, and that means executives must participate in leadership development training to cultivate strong strategies.

Galvanizing the workforce through honesty
If staff members don't know what's really happening in their company, they can't play an active role in helping the business reach its full potential. Once professionals know what they're up against, they can get started coming up with innovative tactics and plans for overcoming barriers. If leaders have hired excellent individuals for their teams, executives should be confident that those experts can handle whatever is thrown their way.

The Harvard Business Review recently pointed out that honesty is an essential component of motivating employees to solve complex and even frightening problems. For example, when John Emery, CEO of Emery Worldwide, realized that the firm's stock had fallen around the same time as he was filming a company-wide video update, he decided to address the problem frankly instead of mask it. The source noted that Emery spoke truthfully about what had happened and asked viewers to assist him in turning these negative results around. 

Some leaders might be afraid that being honest would backfire and inspire fear, but for Emery, the effect was quite the opposite. The news provider pointed out that after staff members saw the plea for help, they started enthusiastically developing solutions. Emery's choice to humbly tell the truth resonated with his workers and made them want to play a role in the business' success.

Openness is important
When organization leaders are honest about their needs, they have the chance to leave a lasting impression on their staff members. Leaders who approach their employees with genuineness and humility may be able to instill a sense of camaraderie that is nearly impossible to achieve without some level of vulnerability. Through leadership development training, executives can discover their own potential for communicating more openly with their teams about hard matters, and this may lead to a more unified, successful enterprise.

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