We can understand, at least intellectually, that straight talk is critical to trust.

Yet how do you embrace it when you have grown up trying to keep the peace, be nice, or avoid the hard truths?

1. Be Intentional.

Straight Talk is important enough that we have made it one of our team values.

2. Be clear.

How we define it and describe it. We Talk Straight:

a) We are direct and open in our communication with each other.
b) We tell the truth; we are transparent and aren’t afraid to confront reality.
c) We face the brutal facts; we don’t skirt the real issues.
d) We choose to be genuine over being polite.
e) We are loyal in people’s absence.

3. Get an Agreement.

While the team agreed we would talk straight with each other and act in alignment with these behaviours, we also included four critical components in the agreement:

a) None of us will do it perfectly.
b) We will ask for help to be direct at any time with anyone.
c) We will communicate directly with anyone at any time if it appears that any of us – likely unintentionally – is not honoring this agreement.
d) We will practice patience as we practice this skill: direction is more important than velocity.

4. Reinforce the message.

We set aside time in meetings to shine a light on, and celebrate, success stories (e.g. When in the past week did we experience people being direct with each other?)

What is your team learning from your behavior?

When my daughter was five, she overheard me complaining about visiting my mother-in-law. I’m sure she didn’t hear the whole conversation. It would have been helpful if I’d have taken the time to fill in some of the gaps. What she got was the negativity.

It was a long drive. I had a lot of work on my plate. And I wasn’t sure if I had the time to visit Grandma, but we made the three-hour trip to visit Mary.

When we got to Mary’s door, I expressed how much we were looking forward to the visit.

My daughter looked me square in the eyes (with Grandma standing right beside us) and exclaimed, “Dad, I thought you didn’t like Grandma.”

It took a long time to dig my way out of that hole.

You never know what kids hear or the meaning they make from their experiences. But parents and care-givers know they are always watching us. Taking cues. Learning behavior. Observing and being educated.

Children don’t do as we say – they do as we do. This is true whether it’s how much time we spend on our devices, the language we use, or the attitude we have about our work and our life.

The same is true for any leadership.
We are always modeling the behavior we can expect. People are always watching us.

When you are promoted into a leadership role, you don’t get more power – you get more accountability.

You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be conscious.

Spring holds a special importance to me.

It’s a time of renewal. Of new beginnings and transformations. After months of cold, spring brings everything back to life in a new way.

And with the spring, comes Easter – a time of reflection that asks, “What is dying, and what is waiting to be born? What is in need of letting go, to make room for something new to emerge? What needs resurrecting?”

I believe that when we are truly committed to following a dream, there exists an unseen force that moves us toward our goal. But through some old, familiar habits, I’ve been hindering the unfolding of my own dream of creating a community of authentic leaders from around the world.

Reflections this past Easter weekend revealed that I’ve been shouldering the responsibility for the strategy and marketing of this dream – even though I suck at strategy and marketing. Afraid of the financial risk and unable to create the right conditions, I’ve spent too much energy frustrated and exhausted ironically doing what is not in alignment with my own authenticity.

This spring, I’m letting go of the responsibility of being the one to strategize this. I’m deciding to stay in my lane. I resolve to do what I do best while I continue to work with our great team in bringing value to our clients. I will keep speaking, writing, and facilitating authentic leadership programs. And when the time is right, I’m trusting that the right circumstances will present themselves. Instead of trying to control this thing, I am choosing, instead, to allow life to flow through me. I’m deciding to let go of the frustration and open myself to possibility.

Can you be too vulnerable as a leader?

Is there such a thing as giving “too much information” as a leader?

We want to show up as our authentic selves, but is there a line that should not be crossed?

I had a client who told me she no longer believed in authenticity.

“I lost all my credibility being authentic. I had learned that authenticity builds trustworthiness, so I was honest with my new team and told them how insecure I felt coming into the new role and wasn’t sure if I was up to the task. They all shut down on me. I couldn’t earn their trust or get a grip on the results that we needed. After four months of frustration, I found a new job in a new organization.”

“That’s not authenticity,” I told her. That’s therapy.”

Don’t expect your team to fix you or straighten you out or look after you. Bring your problems to your therapist (or coach or confidant). Bring your solutions to your team. That’s authenticity.

Once you unpack your fears, doubts, insecurities, and connect with your humanness, you can go to your team and convey your confidence to them. You are then ready, in a real way, to enlist their support for your cause. Being authentic doesn’t mean allowing your fears to take over. It means being honest with yourself and another trusted person who can support you to bring your whole self to what you do.

To dive more deeply into the topic of authenticity, join me in my next complimentary monthly webinar: https://lnkd.in/d37Prt4a

LIVING AND LEADING WITH AUTHENTICITY: How We’ve Missed The Mark – And How We Can Correct It

A lightening rod attracts power by its mere presence.
The same goes for great leaders with substance, depth, and strength of character.
Authenticity has come under considerable criticism of late – and rightly so. Leaders have exposed too much of themselves in the wrong way and have lost credibility in an effort to be “authentic.” People justify hurting people by claiming that their actions reflect their “authentic self.” Others are using authenticity as an excuse to reject any form of “impression management” and their self-centered behavior diminishes trustworthiness. The real failures are those who have learned how to fake being authentic.
The problem isn’t authenticity. The problem is that authenticity is misunderstood.
While the statement, “to thine own self be true,” can be inspirational, it’s important to understand which self you are referring to when you decide to be true to it. Are you talking about your impulsive, emotional self? Your self-centered self? Your accountable self? Your insecure self? Or your true – authentic self? And how do you know the difference? Where is your road map to discover the difference? Where are your tools?
American philosopher, William James, said “there lies within every being a place where, when connected to it, we feel deeply and intensely alive. At such moments there is a quiet voice inside that says, ‘This is the real me.’” This is the home of your authentic self. And while finding and describing this place is as difficult as it is to describe why something is beautiful, here are three clues to know you are on the path to living and leading authentically.
Authenticity means:
  1. A sincere devotion to personal growth and self-awareness. Sincere is derived from the Latin ‘sine’ (without) and ‘cera’ (wax) or without wax. According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in ancient Rome and Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the potential buyer; therefore, a sculpture “without wax” would mean honesty in its imperfection. Authenticity is indicated by a level of comfort with one’s self and one’s cracks. This comes from a life-long commitment to knowing yourself. To quote Leonard Cohen, “Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
  2. A commitment to discern how you share your imperfection with the world. Authenticity isn’t about exposing yourself recklessly. Authenticity, by definition, requires a commitment to both honesty and respect. Indiscriminate spewing of your faults, weaknesses, and emotions is disrespectful to the people who depend on you. This is why a dedication to self-awareness is an indication of authenticity. Don’t turn your team into your therapist. Be 100% honest with your support system away from your work, so you can be comfortable with yourself when you get to work.
  3. Measure your life by how you make the world better. Anything short of an imperfect dedication to helping make a better world is not authentic. Caring about others and basic goodness is in our nature. Don’t mistake authenticity for a method of coping and surviving. For example, being a jerk is never authentic. No one is born a jerk. It’s not in our nature. Being a jerk is a coping response learned somewhere along the way. A sincere desire to serve a cause beyond self-interest is a necessary quality of authentic presence.

Quitting. How to know when it’s time.

Derek Wills, the radio voice for the Calgary Flames was recently asked if he has given up on the Flames this year. At the time of the interview, the team was six points out of a playoff spot with less than ten games remaining. His response was, “Fellas, I have a bad habit of not quitting. I’m going to continue to believe in this team until they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs… ”

This has been a frustrating year for Calgary Flames fans. But there was something inspirational in Wills’ response. It’s inspiring to be around people who don’t quit, who believe in a cause despite all odds, who persevere right till the end.

And sometimes quitting is the hardest and most courageous thing you can do.  So how to know?
Sometimes you don’t. You just have to persevere until you do know.

It can hard to know when to exit any relationship – with an organization, a marriage, a business partnership or even a goal you are persuing. Here’s three conditions to assess if it is the right time to say good-bye:

  1. There is nothing more for you to give the relationship. You have given everything you’ve got. Don’t leave because it’s hard. Leave because you are finished.
  2. There is nothing more for you to learn in the relationship. You have learned everything you’re meant to learn. If you leave before you get the lesson, expect facing it again.
  3. Your values are not respected. You’ve brought your whole self to this relationship and who you are is blatantly dishonored, diminished, and disrespected.