Leadership

The Secret Weapon to Success in Business

February 27, 2015

All of us want to be successful. Throughout my travels, I’ve never met someone that didn’t want to achieve some form of success. Many of us have different versions of what success looks like.

Some want to earn a certain income; others want to own a certain house, while others want a balanced lifestyle as part of their search for happiness.

Whatever success looks like to you, there’s one way that’s proven to help achieve whatever you’re seeking. Candor. I recently read a fantastic book by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, titled Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book. In Winning, Welch addresses the subject of candor perfectly. I’d like to offer my thoughts on candor based on some insightful observations made by Welch.

First, let’s begin with a definition. Candor is the quality of being open and honest in expression. It’s rooted in truthfulness, sincerity, straightforwardness and in short, telling it the way it is.

The use of candor is rare both in business and in everyday life. Let me show you.

Ask yourself, regardless of what position you hold in business, the following questions:

  1. How often are you really told how you did?
  2. How often do you tell others how they really did on a project?
  3. How often do you refrain from speaking up in a meeting not to hurt the feelings of the other person?
  4. How often do you sugarcoat bad news?
  5. How often do you hold back comments and or criticisms?

Don’t believe me yet? Here’s a quote directly from Welch, one of the premier business leaders of our time.

“How many of you have received an honest, straight-between-the-eyes feedback session in the last year, where you came out knowing exactly what you have to do to improve and where you stand in the organization?” The responses that came afterward are astonishing, “On a good day I get 20 percent of the hands up. Most of the time, its closer to 10 percent.”

The killer in businesses is often portrayed as the competition. Your worst enemy in business is actually the way in which we communicate with one another! The lack of candor (open, honest, truthful, transparent) is damaging!

So how can something so simple be a secret weapon to success?

  1. Candor leads to richer, more authentic conversations. I’m not advocating that you tell it like it is and leave people crying or worse, have flat out arguments. When candor is used properly, real ideas come forth, real issues get addressed and people begin to listen, participate and engage on a higher level.
  2. Candor cuts all the crap and allows for quicker and effective meetings. The best meetings I’ve been a part of occur when our team tells it the way it is. Although sometimes hard to digest, these are the best meetings that get the best results – not to mention that issues get resolved in record time!
  3. Candor is efficient, which leads to leaner meetings, which ultimately cuts costs. Candor cuts through the long PowerPoint decks, countless spreadsheets and never ending reports. When surrounded by people who deliver Open, Honest, and Transparent communication, you find yourself in fewer meetings, arriving to solutions faster and ultimately building deeper connections with the people on your team.
  4. Candor gives people a greater sense of purpose and belonging. For me, this is most important because as leaders it’s our duty to ensure the people we lead know exactly where they stand. They must know what success looks like, how to achieve it, where they stand and how they can improve. It’s a leader’s duty!

Candor is clearly the secret weapon to success but it comes at a cost. Instilling it within your organization takes time, hard work and is not something bought but something learned. The good news is that it’s totally possible. At Roma we are no different. It continues to be something we practice with one another, day in and day out and over time has been getting better and better! Roma Core Value 9 states, Deliver Transparent, Open, Honest Communication, which has helped us transform our communication. Although not perfect, it reminds us of our commitment to success!

In the end, people will never tell it the way it is all of the time but through a concerted effort, you and your team can be on the way to success in a more truthful and impactful way. The results are well worth it!

Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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