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May 14, 2009

Trust Springs from Candor

I love The Tudors, fantastic period piece about the travails of power and how it is used. 

As you look around you can see more than a few parallels to todays world. 

King Henry VIII, as with most monarchs, was surrounded by sycophants. People who were merely nodding heads, and with good reason. Being anything else tended to leave you about a head shorter than normal in those days. 

Today, even though beheading is out of fashion in the West at least, you see similar parallels in the workplace and in business. Bullies and beligerent types tend to be surrounded by sycophants and nodding heads. In fact there are several personal brands out there built on the back of arrogance and the nodding heads that feed it. 

But at the base of it all we are still in Tudor England. 

Despite all protestations to the contrary, nodding heads are not interested in the health and well being of the boss. Nor are they interested in the fortunes of the company in its many guises. 

No, they are only interested in themselves. It is not a supportive role it is a defensive role. It is all about deflecting attention, avoiding suspicion, and evading blame. 

At the base of it are the carreer aspirations that most of us foster - only expressed through an exceptionally undesireable and unproductive tactic.

If you lead a team - encourage candor. If you are part of a team - encourage candor. If you are dealing with a client - display candor. And if you are working with powerful people - be sure to wear your candor on your sleeve. 

Candor is not disloyalty. Quite to the contrary, it is loyalty to the cause, the company and the future. 

Being open and honest in all your dealings can often leave you on the outer, exposed, and even in danger of losing your livelihood. It has happened to me in the past. But it is far more digestable and effective than the alternative. 

As I said in one of theStreet Smart Consulting newsletters - Candor/Honesty could well be a career limiting move; but it is not a revenue limiting move. 

Clients need honest and candid people around them. They already have a good collection of nodding heads.