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how often do you lie Chances are it doesn’t come up very often – at least not a lie that could harm anyone. But how often do you fail to be honest with your spouse, your co-workers, your customers and, perhaps most importantly, yourself? This is probably a little harder to quantify because we do it all the time, whether it’s putting on a smile to avoid hurting others’ feelings, only telling a customer about the best parts of your service, or lying to ourselves that you’re doing something would later when you no longer have any real intention to do it.
On my leadership development journey, I’ve found that while these little white lies may seem helpful at the moment, they sometimes do more harm than good. When I was honest with myself, I realized I needed an alternative to telling little white lies. So what’s the solution? radical honesty. It’s a practice that challenges you to be honest everything you do that, to yourself and to others.
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When I first read about radical honesty Brad Blanton’s book, I struggled with that. But I’ve learned that being radically honest doesn’t mean you are brutally honest. You can tell the truth without hurting others.
When you approach every situation with radical honesty, you can become a better leader known for your integrity who can transform your organization. Here are five ways to practice radical honesty in your leadership strategy.
1. Make clearer judgments by separating observations from thoughts
Honesty starts with observation. A simple practice is to observe your bodily sensations, your surroundings, and your thoughts, and then say aloud what you observe. Don’t judge what you notice – let those observations be neutral.
This exercise is designed to help you distinguish what you notice from what you think or feel about it. This will help you recognize your own biases and view your experiences with a more objective lens. As you begin to better understand yourself by learning more about how you react to different situations, thoughts, and feelings, you can use this information to think more clearly and as a leader to make better judgments based on truth and not based on your current feelings.
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2. Own your truth to learn and grow
First, be honest with yourself. Where are you lying to yourself? To find out the truth, it is important to learn to separate what you perceive from your thoughts. For example, when you look in the mirror, you might tell yourself several lies based on your reaction to what you see. Maybe you’re lying to yourself that you’re going to the gym tomorrow, or maybe you think everyone will spot that one mistake that’s making you the most insecure. Internally, you may pretend to be someone else. What aspects of yourself have you suppressed and are there areas where you can grow? We use lies to construct all sorts of narratives about ourselves, and whether those lies make us feel better or worse, they allow us to deny the truth of who we are.
If you discover a lie you told yourself, confront it and learn from it. Being aware of your truth can help you identify areas where you need to grow and recognize your strengths as a person and as a business leader. This leads to a more authentic life. In order to be the happiest and best version of ourselves, we need to be authentic about who we are.
3. Encourage honesty in your team
Radical honesty means more than just being honest with yourself—you must also be honest with others. The best place to start is to share your truth: admit your mistakes. Be honest about what you are proud of. Be more authentic in your personality in different situations. Don’t keep secrets, especially from important people like your family and key team members.
If you are open and honest in your organization, you will set an example through your leadership and encourage others to practice honesty as well. Creating an environment where people can be honest and authentic without fear of judgment is valuable for solid teamwork, problem solving, conflict resolution, and building trust. We have created a blame-free environment within our company. Building that culture starts with you—the leader.
Practice honesty in every part of your leadership. Communicate openly with your team about your management decisions and business performance, and be open to receiving their feedback and ideas. If you have a conflict with someone, tell them politely and honestly what the cause of the problem is. Focus on the problem, not the person. Find a solution through clarity and kindness.
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4. Find solutions faster
Radical honesty is a powerful tool for problem and conflict resolution in the workplace. Of course, honesty also needs to be handled tactfully so as not to hurt the feelings of the people involved, but you can avoid a significant amount of misunderstanding by being radically honest. It enables you to give others friendly and constructive feedback and to address problems directly.
Honesty can be especially helpful in interpersonal conflicts—it ensures clear communication and prevents everyone involved from misinterpreting the feelings, thoughts, or intentions of others. When you have a culture of honesty and authenticity, where team members are not afraid of judgment, you create space for better communication and conflict resolution.
5. Build trust with others
Radical honesty goes a long way in building trust with your team, friends, family, customers, and shareholders. No one wants to be fooled, and if you show that you’re willing to share, even if you screw up, people will be more willing to work with you in the future because they know you have integrity.
When you are honest in both the positive and the negative, people will know you are trustworthy and will help build a relationship. For example, if you know you’re not the best fit for a client’s needs, make sure they remember you as a trustworthy business person by directing them to someone who might be a better fit for you and they may be in sends his friends to you in the future.
When radical honesty as a leader may not be an asset
Radical honesty can be a powerful tool for both personal and leadership development, but it is important to carefully consider when radical honesty is appropriate and when it is not. You want to create a positive environment where you and your team can be authentic and open. To be honest, you don’t have to share every thought or opinion you have. Sometimes it’s best not to share your thoughts when they’re not productive, might be hurtful, or are fueled by your current negative emotions.
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As a business leader, your responsibility goes beyond financial success. Creating a culture of radical honesty can lead to stronger team cohesion, better communication, and improved decision-making. First, be honest with yourself and encourage honesty in your team. Learn to separate your thoughts from observations and face the lies you tell yourself. Practice honesty in every aspect of your leadership, including feedback and conflict resolution. Building trust with others is a key benefit of radical honesty that can lead to more opportunities for growth and success. Be the best version of yourself: Take the first step today and commit to being radically honest in all your interactions.