Vannoy and Ross



Right now, let’s admit the obvious: We all have friends – or at least we should – who will tell us the truth. If we’re doing something wrong, they’ll tell us. The difference between high-performing organizations and average-performing ones is that you don’t have to be friends to tell the truth; you simply have to be on the same team.


Somewhere, somehow, someone made a leadership rule that we’re supposed to be nice to each other. Granted, as humans we want to be benevolent; we don’t want to hurt people. What gets many teams stuck in the abyss of averageness is when being nice takes precedent over being professional: Respectful, supportive, direct, collaborative, truthful and trustworthy (among other things).


Yet, it’s one thing to muster the courage to tell someone they’ve got an issue. It’s an even bigger event to receive the feedback in a way that moves everyone forward.


Consider this: You’ve got spinach in your teeth. There’s something you’re doing – or not doing – that is slowing you or others down. Heck, it might even be embarrassing. But of course, addressing this “spinach affliction” isn’t nearly as embarrassing as it is for your company when it under-whelms its customers. Now that’s some big spinach that’s mighty embarrassing.


Here are the top three reasons why people may not tell you you’ve got green, leafy things stuck in your teeth:

1)      When they’ve told you in the past, you’ve argued with them and denied the evidence;

2)      You’ve rationalized why you had to have spinach in your teeth, why you have to be less than perfect. Or,

3)      You’ve received their feedback as a threat against who you are as a person. You reasoned “spinach in my teeth = I’m a loser.” Consequently, your production plummeted. (Interpretation to others: Just be nice to him or her.)


Today, discuss with those around you what it would look like to take the next step in fighting for each other’s success by telling the truth even more. For example, talk about what it would look like to receive constructive feedback and:

A)    Listen intently;

B)    Ask for their help in moving forward;

C)    And then thank them.


(And now, who feels like brushing their teeth?)




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