One of the most difficult conversations to have as a Leader, is the type of conversation when you know that your words may lead to some form of conflict.
It’s that type of conversation that requires you to speak with candour.
Candour is different to honesty. It’s more than simply telling the truth. Candour refers to an openness, and a frankness when approaching a topic that could be regarded as being difficult, awkward, or even embarrassing to discuss.
Sometimes the bare truth delivered in these conversations is hard to hear. Well, make no mistake, this type of truth is also difficult to deliver at times too, especially if you fear confrontation.
It’s in these moments when Leadership will challenge you.
To be clear, Leadership doesn’t require a title, and Leadership is not confined to the business world.
You can take the role of leader in your department at work, with your customers, within your circle of friends and in your romantic relationship. You can also step up and be a strong leader for yourself, especially during times when you feel you may be drifting off course.
You are the captain of your ship, with regards all aspects of your life.
Your ability to deliver a conversation with candour will define your ability to lead, in any sphere of your life, and the way that you will do so effectively is to combine your candour with an equal amount of care.
Speaking with care demonstrates that you value the person you are speaking to, and shows that you are there to help them grow and develop through whatever situation you need to address.
How you care for someone defines the relationship. How you speak with candour will direct the relationship.
Some of the best words of advice I ever received came from my Father. 15 years ago when I took over the family business he said to me “always be hard on the problem, but soft on the person.” Whilst not easy at all in the early days, these words have always guided me through my life.
As a Leader you will have two choices at any point in time:
1. Avoid the difficult conversation – this approach is taken when you are not prepared to confront. You hope that the problem will simply go away. It very rarely does, especially when it involves the behaviour of another person. Avoiding this type of conversation keeps you safe, but hurts your business, your relationships and your friendships. It’s a case of short term safety, versus long-term pain.
2. Confront the difficult conversation with Candour and Care – this approach is difficult at first, but when choosing your words with the right balance of care and candour, you have the ability to correct a challenging situation, and also establish a sound relationship that will develop over time. It’s all about taking the short term pain, to ensure long term happiness.
Of course, always remember that the person who receives your candour and care also has the choice of how to receive your words. That is up to them, and is in no way a reflection of you.
As a Leader, if you’re brave enough to step forward and speak in the best interest of the person, relationship, or business, then their reaction is simply a reflection of how they see the world.
Any loss as a result of this type of conversation is potentially a good loss. If you know what I mean…
Remember, you can never say the wrong thing to the right person.
Step up this week. Find the courage to speak with candour and care this week, and start entrenching your value as a person, and a Leader with those around you.