Surgery Without Anesthesia
“My husband says a conversation with Dan is like surgery without anesthesia.” (During a birthday party for a long-time coaching client.)
People don’t tell leaders the truth. They imagine what you want to hear and tell you that. They want to:
- Protect feelings. Feeling good justifies incompetence – when feelings rule the day.
- Shield status, both yours and theirs. You don’t bring up the frailties of the queen to her face, especially if she signs your paycheck.
- Ingratiate themselves. Power invites groveling from those who seek personal advantage.
- Avoid conflict.
Conflict avoidant people:
#1. Change the subject.
When you ask a question, people answer a different question. You might ask, “Do you think I’m too blunt?” The answer, “I think you’re kind.”
#2. Ignore issues.
It’s easier to turn your head than to bring up a tough issue.
When was the last time a team member brought up YOUR poor performance?
The people you need to hear – front-line employees – are avoiding you.
The person with position is responsible to move first. You go to them. They won’t come to you.
What are you NOT doing that might have negative consequences? Stop blaming and take responsibility.
What are you doing that makes it difficult for people to speak hard truths?
How might you seek input and feedback?
How has input from others caused you to adapt the way you think about yourself?
A coaching client shared what he planned to say to his board. When he was done, I said, “You’re better than that. Let’s try again.”
People rise to challenges.
Encouragement matters. But you go further if you occasionally hear hard truths.
What might leaders do to better hear the truth about themselves?
The more people prepare for your visit, the more lies you hear. Everyone’s office is clean. The ‘little people’ smile and bow until you leave.
9 Things You Should Know About Liars (Science of People)
How to Tell if Someone is Lying to You, According to Body Language Experts (Time)