Effective leadership has been a casualty of political correctness. The belief held by many that the right not to be offended overrides the right of employers and educators to say what needs to be said.
Back when my Boomer generation started our working careers, our bosses had no hesitation in pointing out our shortcomings. It didn’t matter if those were behavioural, a lack of skill, bad attitude or plain stupidity.
Some bosses were more subtle and considerate than others. There were examples of effective leadership across the range of management styles.
Now it seems that poor performance is tolerated far too often.
It’s a problem that feeds on itself. It’s not good for the organisation, management, customers or employees.
Ineffective bosses create a culture of ineffectiveness that gets worse with each generation of new hires. Junior workers learn from their seniors. The lack of effective leadership means that workers are not made aware of how they could improve their performance. Not told what new skills they should learn.
I came across this article about Radical Candour on firstround.com. This paragraph gives a great example of how hints to improve performance subtle enough not to offend are just not heard by the employee.
Sandberg pushed forward, asking whether Scott’s ums were the result of nervousness. She even suggested that Google could hire a speaking coach to help. Still, Scott brushed off the concern; it didn’t seem like an important issue. “Finally, Sheryl said, ‘You know, Kim, I can tell I’m not really getting through to you. I’m going to have to be clearer here. When you say um every third word, it makes you sound stupid.’”
“Now, that got my attention!” Scott says.
That’s the sort of effective leadership using radical candour that I was exposed to back in the 1970s both in the corporate world and more so in the military. It worked.
Let’s stop beating about the bush if people need to be told a little more clearly how they need to improve, do so.
Candour does not have to be used brutally, it shouldn’t be a weapon, rather a tool for effective leadership.
Leave your thoughts in a comment.