Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Call It B******t

There are old fashioned rules about polite and not polite, job saving and job killing behavior.

One of these is staying quiet when you have a valid point to make.

In battle situations this rule makes sense. War is not brainstorming. The leader makes the call.

But winning in the modern, knowledge-based and collaboration-based business world has different metrics. It's impossible to know or control all. So leaders have to take good advice. More than that. They will fail, utterly, without it.

Many people are afraid they don't have good advice to share. For whatever reason - they don't feel adequate. They censor themselves before one word comes out.

What's sad, and wasteful is that usually honest feedback makes some sense. We do not like to hear it, often, but its absence sends us spinning off into mistake-ville. The house of mirrors. Where we hear and see only ourselves. (Agreeing with every last word.)

We ought not punish people who give feedback. But the fact that we do is not a great excuse for its avoidance.

Instead, what's helpful is to learn better tools for sharing what we think. Emotional intelligence. Judgment. Creativity. Timing.

It is very very hard to say tough things. It can be dangerous if you swing that blade the wrong way.

But at the end of the day I think most recipients of that feedback know your true intentions.

If you say it sincerely, appropriately and you mean it for the good, most of the time you should be OK.

Even if it happens that you get misunderstood - and it will because no communication is perfect - you can persist and use the moment to start dialogue.

Life is a relay race, not a marathon or a sprint. You owe it to the team to pass that baton with best effort.