Our teams want us to be the leaders we read about in the books on our nightstand. Courageous enough to challenge the bureaucracy, willing to lead at the pointy end of the spear, and prove that we are all in this together. A leadership maxim is to share bad news early since it never ages well. This is a great statement for the employee manual, but are you sincere?
It is tough to hear the barrage of what is wrong. We either seek it out from those closest to us or wait for it to show up in the news. How you spend your time reveals your priorities. How much time do you spend asking the hard questions to expose the bad news?
Does your team believe bad news is welcomed, and something will be done, or is it easier to just smile and wave? The silent majority of team members will keep their opinions close to the chest for fear of reprisal unless we are intentional to draw them out. How many "whys" are needed before you surface legitimate concerns during your daily walkabouts with the team?
Today, we choose what kind of team to lead. One that is characterized by charging forward with gracious transparency or hunkering down in a protective defense of the status quo. Each day, this unique team is investing their precious lives to achieve a common mission, and the opportunity is missed if their observations and insights are ignored. Feedback is a gift, and if improperly handled, it is squandered. The team deserves better from us, and we must deliver.
Going Further: How are you building a culture that is free to share bad news early? What bad news surprised you? How has this freedom influenced the team and helped the end customer? What is your process for collecting candid feedback? What action have you taken as a result? What culture needs to change? What can you do today to start required changes?