As I read the announcement for this month’s Omaha Organization Development Meeting (thank you Laura Roccaforte), there was a link to a YouTube video of Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead, sharing her extensive knowledge and experience around vulnerability and leadership. The quote that really struck me came at the end when Brené was asked about one thing that leaders could do to be more vulnerable,
“Clear is kind, unclear is unkind. Stop avoiding tough conversations because you think you are being polite or kind to people, that is not kind.” -- Brené Brown
This avoidance is part of the “ignore it” phase of the downward spiral. When our self-talk is telling us “this feedback will hurt their feelings” or “they will think I am mean or don’t care” or “they will have to figure it out on their own.”
To be clear with someone and to, as Brené put it, “stay in those tough conversations”, is the “taking responsibility” phase of Spiraling Up and puts you on the path of finding solutions and collaborations to be In Synch.
I will take this opportunity to bring in some other content around Spiraling Up. I have had this 5 C’s of Accountability that I have used in working with leaders for nearly 20 years. I know, everyone had some number of some letter of something back then, I just wanted to play along! They have served me well in my work.
The first C, of course, is Clarity (I will get to the others at some point). Are your people clear about the goals, expectations, processes, outcomes, tools and resources? Has there been specificity so that they know who is doing what by when and what’s next? People need this level of clarity in order to easily hold themselves and each other accountable to the results (especially collective results).
As leaders, we must offer this clarity and give feedback around the performance associated with it, even when it feels like a tough conversation. No one wants to be off track or disrupt their team’s performance. When we aren’t clear in the feedback or ignore when someone is off track, we set up the entire team to fail and make it really easy for people to spiral down and generate commiserators. Be willing to be vulnerable, “stay in tough things when they get uncomfortable and awkward!”