Long gone are the days when a leader needed to put on a brave face to keep employees feeling secure. In times of financial turmoil a message from the chairman stating that the future looks bright will no longer cut it. Thank goodness for that! Success is sustained today through transparency, even when things go wrong. In a world where information is available in overload, you absolutely cannot bend the truth. If you put a lie out there, expect it to come back and bite you in the future.
I have contained bad news by bringing it to a company board before they hear about it from a third party or the national press. It helped the team understand how the problem arose and because it was communicated openly they understood how to communicate what’s happening to resolve it. On a much smaller scale in my own design practice and my business interests and responsibilities when negative things happen or are about to happen, I inform my team along with an explanation of how I intend to resolve it …and here’s the thing, a great team will join you in resolving the issues. …and that is a team. Anything other than full buy-in needs cutting.
If I have a constant late arriving team member, a clock watcher or a disruptive member of a team, I will monitor in silence before addressing it as a problem. Because I travel a lot it’s important to monitor quietly when I’m present because who knows what will happen when I’m not there?
I often let people in my team go to the point of no return before I pull the plug. There was a reason I engaged with them originally so I try to regain that, when I can’t I have the opportunity to retain and retrain, move them along or watch a slow rot, but I cannot leave it. Leadership is about dealing with issues before they get out of hand and maximising opportunity when it arises.
Research is key
Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”. Social Media qualifies that statement more than he knew back then. In an era of constant doubt between truth and lie, fake news and selling a product for the first time, the public have relished that just because something is said or written it doesn’t make it true or real.
The lesson to students, consumers and the general public is that as great as the internet is for easy access to a variety of topical information, it isn’t given as fact or truth. Just because you read something online or in a newspaper or even watched it on TV doesn’t mean that it is true. The good side of this realisation is that at last we get our students away from their iPad in search of evidence to qualify their source of knowledge.
I have always stated that just because I provide an opinion or offer a solution to a problem in design or in business it must be qualified by a third party of higher independent category-specific ratification, anything less is an unqualified opinion, sales tool or personal statement. The lesson here? Don’t just listen or read it, check out who and why it has been provided. Form an opinion on fact, do not ever follow the heard and ask yourself why it is being presented! Often you find the solution just in that simple process. If your team can’t get it, you are not quite the leader you should be!