I believe an organization's culture starts at the top. As we've seen from companies like Uber, trouble starts when the top leaders are a bit smarmy. Luckily, I tend not to believe that's the norm across the board.

What I do believe is that many C-suite leaders start off with good intentions, yet somewhere along the way they lose their focus. They make promises that they either can't keep or had no intention of keeping. They also often use their influence to get help from others to deflect blame from themselves.

In the video below, I tell a tale of something that happened to me just over 25 years ago. The part I don't mention is that, being someone at a director level, I, along with everyone else, was told that we had the right to say whatever we wanted to when we had our meetings and that it wouldn't go any further than that, whether we agreed with each other or not. I did just that, and it ended up costing me on the back end... something I wasn't close to being prepared for.

If you've read this blog you know that I often talk about the need for a bit of political correctness when talking to employees, peers or those above you. I'm not talking about giving criticism, I'm talking about listening to people when they tell you that your opinions matter and they want you to be brutally honest with what you have to say.

I've never known anyone who likes it, even when they say they do, so I don't go that route. What I will do is call something out, even in a meeting where there's a lot of people, when I know what's being said is wrong. I always give a few facts to back up my position to show what I'm talking about; if I don't know something concrete I'll keep my mouth shut until I have the time to do some research on it if I feel it's worth having some input on the matter.

Even so, I've had a few occurrences where stating my opinion, factual or not, has gotten some push back after the fact. The video below is the worst thing that ever happened to me (even though I turned out to be correct, as I expected), but as I said above I wasn't prepared for it. The only other time I wasn't prepared for a negative reaction was when I was actually saying something nice about a person, who felt I'd embarrassed her in front of everyone else; sometimes even compliments aren't a good thing. 🙂

I like to see myself as a consensus type of guy, although I recognize it won't always be unanimous. I try to get opinions from others if I lead a meeting but I also tell people that if they have an opinion they need to have a basis for it and a different option to put into place.

I do this because I realize that I'm not close to perfect, and just because I have some facts doesn't mean I have all the correct facts. The reality of true leadership is recognizing that and getting people to offer their opinions while setting rules for how those opinions are given. If you're in a leadership position and decide to take retribution on someone who told a truth you didn't like, you're more of a bully than a leader; no one likes bullies.

In my opinion, if you know you're right about something you shouldn't be afraid to say what you have to say and shouldn't have to worry about consequences. However, since I had to deal with something of my own, I know this might not be the best course of action to always take.

I will say this; if you're at a company where you can't be honest and truthful when you've been asked to be honest and truthful, it's time to look elsewhere for employment. That's tough to hear but let's face the fact that you're not going to be happy and you've now learned that you can't trust the people above you; that's a lose-lose situation sooner or later.

With that said, here's the video; let me know your opinion on either what I've talked about or the story in the video.

Being Correct Is Sometimes A Risk You Have To Take