Why Leaders Can’t Be Honest and Candid

Candid, honest feedback about performance is all too rare in most organizations.  The reluctance to talk to a subordinate about poor performance, the ‘grade inflation’ inherent in performance reviews, and the withholding of honest praise for excellent performance are examples.  These can happen because of fear to be candid with people.  It’s why you can have nearly everyone’s performance rated “above average” in a year when organization performance is weak.

The flip side is the leader on a power trip who loves having control over people, so he keeps secrets, won’t discuss issues, shares little, and often lashes out with a heavy hand to punish people he doesn’t trust.  That’s not a leader, that’s a boss.

Both cases have a negative effect on people and performance.  They drive out trust and cause people to ‘check out’ while on the job.  I once had a person complain to me about receiving an excellent performance review.  There was little doubt that her performance was excellent, but she was demoralized because her manager gave the same rating to every one of his direct reports.

Leaders lead; they know that providing candid and honest feedback with their people is important to improving performance.  While some managers and supervisors are clearly on a power trip, others avoid candid discussions because they do not know how to effectively discuss performance and coach performance improvements.  If you have this going on in your organization, you need to address it.

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