June 24, 2014
In business it is critical to surround yourself with those that will tell you the truth, those that will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. That is why coaches are so valuable. Listen to what Eric Schmidt has to say on the subject in his YouTube video on business coaching.
The current events in the news have made it apparent that the President may have come up short in this business basic. The VA Administration scandal, Benghazi, the IRS scandal: they all illustrate that our chief executive may not be getting all the correct information, or at least all the information he needs. Too many question marks continue to create the deniability that proves important information is not getting through—which also illustrates a failure in surrounding yourself with those that will tell you what you need to hear—the truth. This happens in many, many organizations and businesses. Is it happening in yours?
What makes these recent situations so frustrating is the deniability that is employed—“I didn’t know”. Why did he not know? Who is giving him information? What ever happened to the accountability that our highest offer requires? One of our former Democratic Presidents took accountability, making some very tough decisions. He even had a sign on his desk stating that “the buck stops here.” Is the buck really stopping at the top, now? I know when I was moving through the ranks of management, I defused many a boss—VP by owning the results of my charges. If a Store Manager screwed up, I owned it and conveyed that it was my fault and I would deal with it appropriately. This eliminated a lot of rhetoric, potential criticism and tongue-lashings. I owned it.
Part of striving to be told what you need to hear is adhering to one of the principles I learned early in my business career. Inspect what you expect. Or at least have those who report to you be very thorough with this principle and then tell you what you need to hear. Are you inspecting what you expect? Are your direct reports inspecting what they expect, or better what you expect?
Maybe it is too much to ask, but I have said for many, many years that our government needs to operate like a business. Where would your business be if it had to deal with comparable issues such as the scandals our administration is dealing with? Where would you be?
Who is in your inner circle? Who have you surrounded yourself with? Are they supporting you, encouraging you, challenging you? Or even more important, telling you what you need to hear.