- On June 2, 2015
Maybe it’s that Marlboro man heritage of ours–independent, frontier rough, doesn’t take guff from anyone.
As a culture we seem to place an overly high value on “straight shooters.” The pervasiveness of no-responsibility talk radio seems to glorify shooting off your own opinion before anyone can fire off theirs.
A quick draw and straight shooting was needed to tame the Wild West. It does not translate well in a diverse, multi-generational, multicultural, global business world. It is an image that has outlived its usefulness.
Yet, many managers pride themselves on laying it all out and telling it like it is, chips fall where they may. “At least they know where I stand,” they say.
While forthrightness, honesty, and getting to the crux of the matter are admirable traits in a leader, being a “straight shooter” can perpetuate a management style that tolerates demeaning, bullying, and carelessness of others feelings.
“I’m not going to mince words” is a lazy way out. It is self-centered and disrespectful of others involved in the situation. The straight shooter defense preempts any other discussion of the matter, shooting down any chance to engage other perspectives.
A better way? Practicing Finesse and Graciousness.
I’m not talking turning into Downton Abbey where embarrassing secrets are kept from public view, more is left unsaid than said, and we hang on dearly to an outdated system. Keep calm and carry on.
Graciousness is attending to others before you attend to yourself. It is valuing and respecting that others have a view of reality most likely different from yours.
Being gracious does not mean you can’t also be forthright and honest in expressing your views. However, you approach it with the intention of engaging others and not to be the ‘last gun standing.’
In his book, Mindful Leader, Michael Carrol, names it ‘upaya’–being able to handle situations skillfully. Bullying behaviors, rigidity of ideas, and insulting, demeaning, and ungrateful statements are emotionally careless and unskillful management behaviors and create a corrosive working environment.
A skilled leader assesses the situation to see what’s needed, provides the proper resources to get the job done, and helps others to achieve what is necessary. Situational awareness, adaptation, and appropriate response.
After mindful consideration, what is needed may in fact be ‘straight shooting’…delivered graciously and with finesse.
If we are lazy and default to ‘laying it all out’ as our normal response, we are not doing our job as leaders. Each situation calls for finesse and graciousness.
As a boy, George Washington, our first President, practiced penmanship by transcribing the 110 Rules of Civility, a set of maxims developed by French Jesuits in the mid-16th century.
Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present.
What if every manager had this posted as a reminder on their desk?
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