In today’s workplace, honesty is an endangered species. Even when you think you have spotted it, you may reach out to touch it and discover someone’s integrity has disappeared into extinction right before your eyes.
There is really only one reason why people avoid the truth. It is survival. The ‘flight or fight response’ leads the mind to question a person’s own actions and answer their fears. It may be the fear of making a mistake that makes history or the fear of standing for something when others will not. The fear can also be of losing ground and losing face. Suddenly, fear builds into an accumulation of half-truths appearing more viable than the truth. Half-truths rob opportunity of the ability to deliver trust.
Only trust will remove fear and replace doubt with confidence and performance. When we sacrifice honest feedback, we rob others of the opportunity to set new personal goals. Often times, this can be seen when unsatisfactory performance is recognized, but not confronted until someone is suddenly moved or terminated. The blow of an unsuspected and sudden consequence usually leaves the victim with the “deer in the headlights” look. They never realized they should have tried to do something differently. Individuals who fail to confront others with honest feedback are not leaders, but cheaters. They frequently sacrifice commitment to their colleagues to install a quick fix or serve their own personal agendas.
In the end, the choice for anything less than integrity leaves nothing more than face value. Eventually, predators will sense you are no real threat and put you on the endangered species list.
Think of your company as an ecosystem requiring a balance of life forms to ensure survival and growth. One of the greatest threats to an organization’s ecosystem is the absence of trust. Consider the energy you see devoted to spreading criticism and disappointment in others on any given day. Listen and be honest about what you hear. If you replace criticism and disappointment with support and solutions, you will create an environment focused on evolution rather than the threat of its predators.
Build an environment of trust and growth. We can expect people to take chances on learning only if we give them the space to explore their skills. Teach individuals to grant themselves permission to make mistakes. Help others to pursue their dreams and don’t criticize the risk they are willing to take. In areas where others have failed, they may succeed.
If leaders find a colleague facing unmet expectations, they must help them stand up with dignity and move forward. The pressure of disappointment which overachievers place on themselves is always greater than the pressure anyone else can put on them. Choose to broker in honesty rather than disappointment and colleagues will seek your counsel. If failure occurs because a commitment was made but no energy was invested, the leader is responsible for delivering pressure to create focus.
If we are honest with ourselves, failure will never be unknown or sudden. It is everyone’s responsibility to design survival or end-game strategies when others fail. End-game strategies will prepare you to pull out the survivors and execute the alternatives. Teach everyone to think about turning losses into opportunities. If you focus energy on helping each other meet the overall bottom line, you will strengthen your position in the marketplace and your ability to fight competition. Invest in integrity and you will deliver trust in self, each other, and the future.