Dear Christian Radio,
When PAR identified its ways of being—The #ENCW Way—Be Honest was chosen as a value because of two defining meanings:
- The first meaning can be summed up as being truthful, ethical, full of integrity, honorable, and upright.
- The second, conveys PAR’s intentional approach toward being candid, direct, and straight-shooting.
Why is it so important? Let’s look at NASA in the 1980s for an example of honesty played out. Researchers placed existing cockpit crews—pilot, copilot, navigator—in flight simulators. They were testing them to see how they would respond during the crucial 30 to 45 seconds between the first sign of a potential accident and the moment it would occur. The stereotypical take-charge pilots, who acted immediately on their gut instincts, made the wrong decisions far more often than the more open, inclusive pilots who said to their crews, “We’ve got a problem. How do you read it?” …before choosing a course of action.
The NASA findings are simple: you are far likelier to make mistakes when you act on too little information than when you wait to learn more. However, researchers went deeper. They found that the pilots’ habitual style of interacting with their crews determined whether crew members would provide them with essential information during an in-air crisis. The pilots who’d made the right choices in these tests routinely had open exchanges with their crew members BEFORE this research. In other words, if there was no pattern for honesty and assessment prior to the test, the pilot couldn’t suddenly change his ways and expect immediate success.
NASA researchers also found another interesting result: crew members who had regularly worked with the “decisive” pilots, themselves were unwilling to intervene—even when they had information that might save the spacecraft — even when their own lives were at risk. That kind of silence has a tremendous price.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers: The Story of Success,” said:
“The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication. One pilot knows something important and somehow doesn’t tell the other pilot. Hence, in an emergency, pilots need to communicate not just in the sense of issuing commands but also in the sense of…sharing information in the clearest and most transparent manner possible.”
Beyond the workplace research, we also have an incredible model in Scripture. When Jesus encountered the woman at the well (John 4:7-26), He refused to be pulled into a tug-of-war over secondary issues. Instead, Christ drove to the deepest issues and needs of her heart. He challenged her about the character of the Father and lovingly spoke to her of her broken dreams and deep disappointments.
How can I implement such honesty and candor in my workplace?
To change your culture for the better, it begins with creating norms and structures that sanction truth telling. At PAR, for example, our entire leadership board has given us an incredible “green light” and foundation to this! We aren’t alone in paving this pathway! Having our superiors, board, and parent company on-board is certainly wind in our sails. We are tasked with truth-telling by answering these questions:
- What if we were prepared to be told an uncomfortable truth, in order to grow? To be better? To win?
- Can we imagine making more progress than we currently are? What if we started seeing goals completed quicker?
- How effective would our work be if we saw our team come together and be filled with more comradery and less daily drama?
These are questions to ponder, which lead us to this next series of serious questions to ask:
- Why bury important decisions?
- Why tip-toe around issues?
- Why risk losing a culture you’ve worked so hard to establish?
Through candor, you will smooth out any rough edges, see improved skills, and move your organization closer to achieving your vision for the future. Yes, hard conversations may mean saying “no” to some feel-good ideas. That’s certainly part of it. This also may mean a leader must make difficult decisions at times by saying “no” to individual requests, so that he or she can honor the greater cultural integrity and impact across the entire company. There are times when being honest, in the moment, can feel like a culture-killer. But take heart, as tough as an honest conversation may be, it’s a tougher thing altogether to discover the truth was averted by never being spoken.
Be Honest, be direct, be clear, and do the right thing. It’s the true sign of a healthy organization.
Dear Christian Radio…
- Be ethical. It may seem obvious, yet it bears stating again.
- Use candor. Don’t mistake “Jesus, meek and mild” for not being a good example of being forward and direct.
- Even if it’s messy, and it will be, find a way to begin implementing the values of honesty and frankness in everything you do. It will pay off!
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