When Candor Means They’re a Jerk


Experience shows candor is rare. Ignoring uncomfortable topics and dancing around difficult issues is expected.  Candor surprises.

Leaders who push things under the carpet
are nurse maids not leaders.

Candor gone wrong:

Jerks excuse destructive candor by saying, “I’m just being honest.”

Bob Burg says, “Those who take pride in being ‘brutally honest’ are typically more interested in being brutal than they are in being honest.”

Candor is brutality when:

  1. It takes people by surprise. Institute candor with input, explanation, and training. Unexpected candor is symptomatic of the problem.
  2. Relationships are distrustful, weak, and manipulative.
  3. It only flows in one direction. The boss speaks up but everyone else is expected to shut up.
  4. It’s based on opinion and preference rather than observable behavior and data.
  5. It’s a weak leader’s way of getting things off their chest.

Bonus: Candor fails when it’s reserved for negative encounters.

Environments go black unless you speak light more than dark. It takes 2.9013 positives to balance 1 negative. Be candid with praise, honor, and recognition.

How to institute candor:

  1. Tell everyone what you’re doing. Be candid about instituting candor.
  2. Let others see candor within the leadership team. Model it.
  3. Be more positive than negative.
  4. Share information. Everything becomes public unless indicated otherwise. Expose information hoarders.
  5. Prepare for coach roaches – candor haters. They’re goals are self-preservation, power mongering, and manipulation.

5 Benefits of candor:

  1. Boldness increases.
  2. Power struggles decrease.
  3. Drama declines. Drama is the weak person’s way of feeling important. It depends on misstatement, overstatement, and manipulation.
  4. Confidence, based on clarity, grows.
  5. Real connections develop.

Tip: Begin gently, but work persistently.

What are the pros and cons of candor?

How can leaders institute candor?