It’s nauseating to hear – someone soft-shoe dancing around an issue because they’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. They do so because they might receive negative feedback in a 360 review that they were abrupt or too direct in delivering feedback on that issue. So rather than going the direct route, they water down their message until it’s a mealy mouthed blathering stream of meaningless crap (yes, I’m fired up as I’m writing this).
Let me ask you this – do you want to follow a “leader” who doesn’t speak his or her mind? Someone who is more concerned with how their actions will be perceived rather than saying what they really think? Do you want to follow a leader who is more interested in doing nothing wrong (and hence not doing much of anything) or would you rather follow someone who takes a stand for what they believe in and suffers the consequences as appropriate?
Me? I’ll choose option B.
Conflict avoidance has invaded Leaderville and it’s an ugly blight. IMPORTANT: realize, I’m not advocating or approving of hateful, cruel, rude, or offensive behavior and words (although some idiot won’t bother to read this sentence and they’ll leave an anonymous comment to the effect that I’m a hate-monger or some stupidity of similar ilk). Those words and behaviors have no place in any workplace (or our lives for that matter).
What I’m attacking is a belief that we as leaders can’t speak our minds because we might hurt someone’s feelings. It’s that mindset that erodes the core of leadership over time and turns it into gentle corrective actions that end up having no impact whatsoever. Sure, no one felt corrected or had their feelings hurt but they now effectively have no freakin’ idea what they’re supposed to do or what they did wrong in the first place because the message was diluted.
We need to fix this. Now. So here’s what I propose: