Move From Legislated Optimism to Radical Transparency
Scott talks about telling “ground truth” or what’s really happening in the field as opposed to the official corporate party line. She notes that while it’s necessary for tough truth telling to take place, it’s risky and involves courage. We’ve all been there before, when someone says the truth—something everyone knows but is scared to say—and then there’s this big sucking sound as the air goes out of the room. Following the big gulp in the room, the leader stiffens and says something like—OK, Mary, let’s move on. Suddenly Mary is considering the value of annual or sick leave. And everyone around her is now about as willing to tell the truth as the next guy in line at a hanging. Such deluded leaders try to get “Legislated Optimism.” That is, such leaders want only agreement, discourage honest feedback, and demand affirmation—the opposite of what Mary offered. In such cultures, companies die one heartbeat at a time, they lose their best and brightest, and they keep their sheep! Some “tells” that you’re in such a toxic place: Only the usual suspects are invited to the table; the corporate “nod” is prevalent (the yes-man theory); gaps between “official truths” and “ground truths;” the death of innovation; and the absence of accountability. Finally, let me say that Scott’s a rare bird who sings a valuable song. Listen to her closely.