Honesty And The Leader

Written by Mathieu Yuill

April 20, 2020

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Transcript

Good day, and welcome to the leading with nice daily. My name is Mathieu Yuill, and this week we are going to talk about Honesty and specifically how honesty relates to you as a leader. The reason I want to talk about this this week is there’s a lot about honesty that typically we have relied on physical cues to pick up on. But right now all of our interactions are online. Very few of us have that in-person connection. So I want to talk about honesty and I want to start talking with a great guy and I’m going to name him by name because it’s a good story about him. His name is Reg, and he was the leader. He was the boss at this place of employment. And a new chairperson came in and he had an idea about how things should run. And he actually liked the general manager of this organization and said to him, Hey, I want to start doing things this way.

But Reg knew that he was not that guy and he voluntarily said, I’m going to leave this role because you need somebody differently now. Now because he did that, the organization actually found him another role within the organization where he would Excel, and then years later after he had left that organization and done some other work, they brought him back into a new role. Now, none of that would’ve happened if Reg had not been honest with himself, and that’s where honesty starts. That’s what we’ll talk about this week. Now I want to talk about an article that I read in Forbes like four years ago, 2016 by Jeff Loftus, and he talked about two incidences that had happened at the time. The first was a story that a politician had told where they talked about going to an Eastern European country where there is some war going on and how they exited the plane and immediately had to hide from sniper fire.

Well, it turned out that there is video of that person doing that thing and it really harmed their reputation when they discover that they were greeted by you know, young people with flowers. It just wasn’t a good look obviously because they had lied. But what really impacted that person more than anything is that they had shown very clearly that their values did not align with the people that they were responsible to. And as a leader, when we talk about honesty, that is often the lens at which we are looking through what you might consider an honest leader, somebody else may not. Because honesty is very much about how we align with it as people. So if you’re in a situation right now and we’re in the middle of COVID-19 we’re online, you’re feeling even more disconnected from your leader and your organization. It may be because the way they are treating honesty or the lack of honesty is not aligning with your values.

But if you feel a heightened sense of comfort and belief in your leaders, integrity, then that’s definitely an indication that you are aligned with that leader. And the way they do it. And the thing is not everybody’s going to look the same. And that’s an important thing to know when you talk about leadership and honesty. Now there’s definitely a line between honesty and not being honest, but how it’s approached may not be or may be in line with your approach. Now i want to talk about an article and something that was done way back in 2007 and it was a from strategy and business magazine, the author was Mark Buchanan, so props to all the people that helped put this article together and it talked about the science of subtle and there’s a lot to it, but the crux of it was this. MIT had done some research where they had people wearing these sensors that would measure and read somebody’s body language, like not the person wearing the sensor, but the people that they are interacting with.

And what they found was this is that body language can be so subtle that we often don’t pick up on its cues. Now, I’d read another study and I should have looked it up before I started this recording, but basically there’s something like 217 different types of smiles or facial expressions or something like that that give us the nuances to know how something’s right. Like when somebody is genuinely happy to see you versus when they’re just kinda sorta happy to see you too when they put on a smile. But wish you were not there at the moment. And here’s what the researchers learned. So they actually were using this research at MIT to help train negotiators and help people that were in high stress situations. But what I took away from this is this, we do not all have the luxury of having a sensor in a conversation that will tell us how our information is being received.

So today I want to encourage you in one thing and that’s clarity. So asking questions like, does that make sense to you? Is there anything further I can tell you about this? How do you interpret what I just said? Honesty is the gap between what you said you will do and what you did. And if that gap is very narrow, you will be seen as honest. So if somebody is not understanding what you say, you will do. Even if you did exactly what you intended, you will look dishonest, clarity, seek clarity to improve your reception of honesty. Today I want to introduce you to a book or maybe talk about a book that you also know and really like that really changed the way I look at everything from empathy two security, two directness and it’s called radical candor by Kim Scott. And basically the bottom line of this book is it wants to give you a guide, some instructions, some boundaries on how you can both care personally and challenge directly.

And the thing that I love about this book is it puts that idea so simple in how can I be somewhere, in a relationship where I can be so candid that the person both knows that I care deeply about them, but I also want them to be at their best. If we back up a little bit and look what makes up radical candor, it’s a few of these things, empathy, insincerity and aggression. And if you put it on a chart, so radical candor is in the top right-hand quadrant in the bottom left-hand quadrant would be manipulation insincerity. That’s where I am saying things that you just want to hear to make you feel good about yourself or do what I want you to do. But I don’t really mean it in the top left-hand corner would be she calls it ruinous empathy and that’s where I’m just being so empathetic and so understanding that I’m actually not helping you move forward.

And in the bottom right-hand corner on the challenge directly access would be obnoxious aggression. And that’s just where I basically bully you into what I want you to do. And when you move all of these three things into the radical candor zone, when you are using empathy, when you’re being sincere, when you are being direct, you end up in the radical candor zone and it looks like this. So Kim Scott tells a story about how she did a presentation in front of a group of people and after the presentation, her boss came out of the room with her and said, Kim, great job you really, now that strategy is going to be amazing, but we’re going to get you some a speaking coaching ad because you really need it. And Kim’s like, Oh haha, yeah, thank you. I’ll think about it. And the boss said, no, if you’re not very good at speaking but you need to be, I’m going to pay for it. I’ll set you up with my coach right away. And Kim again said, Oh yeah, maybe I’ll think about it. And the boss said, Kim, you need to do this to still be good at what you do here. And I was like, Oh, okay.

Now she knew though in that moment that she did think she did a great job, that she did want her to exceed, but she was being also very candid that this is why you need to do that coaching and why this matters today is when we come out of this time. And if you’re not listening around when we recorded this, we’re right in the middle of COVID-19 and we’re all working at home and there’s a lot of questions because we don’t know the answers when we come out of this radical candor will almost be the entry point into a good workplace.

If you’re working in somewhere that does not have this or if you are not a radically candid type of boss, you will not get the best employees. So take a look at this book, check it out. The audiobook is just as excellent as a print and I want to end with a really close look at integrity. And I started off talking about how honesty and integrity are so closely related to each other. And the reason integrity matters is it’s, it’s not easy to see because integrity often is a measurement of what you do when nobody’s looking. If you are caught doing something when you think nobody’s looking, you’ll be labeled as somebody who does not have a lot of integrity. They will not question your honesty. However, we use honesty to fill in the gaps about what we think about your integrity. The reason why integrity matters so much is it’s actually the number one thing people say they look for in a good leader, a good boss, and two researchers.

One Robert Mormon out of Creighton University and Steven Grover at of the University of Otago and New Zealand did a great research article on this many years, or I can’t, I think 2006 2007 time. And what they discovered is people will very quickly fill in the gaps, what they think about your integrity based on what they believe about how honest you are. So with the inability to actually see what you’re doing when nobody’s looking, they will use honesty as that measurement. So honesty is kind of a two for one deal, high, honest, high integrity. It’s that simple. For more on this topic, visit leadingwithnice.com we want to help you inspire others, build loyalty and get results. Talk to you again next week.

 

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