The importance of making it safe to tell the truth

My reflections today have been about the importance of making it safe to tell the truth. I think a lot of drama is the result of not feeling safe to truth. (Of course Jobs had a lot of drama and didn’t make it safe.) I was thinking about a workplace where the CEO took an order that would mess up the shipping schedule and promised to handle it himself. He then disappeared, so the shipping guy had a crisis on his hands at the end of the day. The shipping guy spoke to the whole management team about it the next day and everyone communicated responsibly about their own roles in delaying the order, but he didn’t want to bring it up to the CEO because the CEO was “too busy.” I brought it up privately and fielded every imaginable excuse before the CEO acknowledged he needed to address the situation. It wasn’t safe to tell the truth – although the CEO did appreciate my honesty in the end.

But truthing isn’t a common corporate cultural trait. I think of the CEO who had a customer drop in because he hadn’t returned his calls. He complained about the customer and how the order was too small to justify all the customization. He asked, “What should I say?” and was taken aback when I suggested the truth. That is what he did, and it went pretty well.

It comes back around to humility, doesn’t it? It’s safe to tell the truth to a humble person. It’s not safe to tell the truth to someone who has an image to protect. And a humble person doesn’t need to hide the truth or from the truth. It all leads back to – say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it.

Say what you mean and be who you are. Of course, that’s motivation enough to clean up your act. I do consider that fact that I won’t let myself lie about what I do before I do something I might not rather fess up to.

(However, I did ask my photographer to touch up my new photo.)

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