If good leadership means Facing Reality with a capital F, why do we hold back from saying what needs to be said?
What gets in the way of us having chest-restricting, gut-churning but oh-so-freeing, ‘Facing Reality Conversations’?
The irony is, when we speak honestly (and from the heart) about difficult situations, the fears that have been festering in our minds are rarely realised.
In fact, quite often there is a resounding collective sigh of relief that SOMEONE….someone, has had the courage to name what everybody else in the room is thinking and feeling, but is too afraid to face…or say.
Silence, avoidance, soul-less corporate-speak, choosing emails when a frank face-to-face conversation is needed – these things have the opposite effect.
Here are just 6 examples of ‘Facing Reality Conversations’ you could start having today:
1. “I get the feeling that, in the meeting we just had, you didn’t agree with what I was saying, but are holding back in some way….?”
Or, if the shoe is on the other foot,
“I don’t agree with what you are saying, but I’m concerned that ‘cos you’re my boss and you’re so gung ho on this idea, to disagree with you will be a career limiting move! But *takes a big breath*…this is why I disagree/here’s my different perspective….”
2. “Our customers/shareholders/suppliers aren’t happy. In fact if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve been havin’ a little senior management happy talk party in la-la land. *Presents evidence to back this up*
I know that if we put our heads together as a leadership team, as we’ve done in the past, we can nail this.”
3. “I sense you are struggling with this role. You and I both know that you’re not where you need and want to be with your performance. Can we talk about this? I believe in you and I really want to help….”
4. “You know that REALLY expensive culture change programme we’ve invested bucket loads in? It’s full of shit. It ain’t working (#sunkcosts) because its full of flowery HR bullshit speak and convoluted processes and we don’t want to tell (insert expensive consultancy firm) that actually…we just don’t get it….and they just don’t get it… or us….and actually, whilst I’m at it… it’s pretty difficult for me to admit I’ve made a mistake in going down this path…so what are our options….and what do the rest of you think?”
5. “This restructuring is necessary if we want our organisation to flourish (even survive). The process we have to go through to do that is difficult and painful and all kinds of bad – for me (to make all these roles redundant and feel like the bad guy) – and for you (to experience all the repercussions of those decisions)…hell, it’s MUCH worse for you)…
…But it’s necessary.
So what do you need? What can I do to support you through this lousy time?”
6. “I’m detecting you guys are not with me on this initiative. I’m feeling really frustrated that it seems you’re not on board and it’s as if I’m the one doing all the work. What’s your response? Is this just me and/or what am I doing that might be contributing to this situation..?”
Roger Van Oech, a world expert in creativity once said, “Long ago, map makers sketched dragons on maps as a sign to sailors they would be entering unknown territory at their own risk. Some sailors took this sign literally and were afraid to venture on. Others saw the dragons as a sign of opportunity, a door to virgin territory.”
‘Facing Reality Conversations’ are a bit like the dragons on those maps.
What’s your relationship with the dragons on the map? The virgin territory?
What’s your fronting-up, gut-wrenching, heart-palpitating, courageous piece of Facing Reality in your world right now?
What’s the conversation (even just with yourself to begin with) you are currently not having about your inner and outer reality?
How can you Face Reality with a full heart, compassion and honesty?