So says Dr Brené Brown, author, researcher and orator. Brené argues that we believe we are helping another person when we water down important messages or give vague feedback so as not to upset them or create a situation where a highly emotive or volatile response may ensue. Unfortunately, our belief in this regard is wrong. She asserts that a leader needs to be both brave and vulnerable in providing clear boundaries even if an emotive response is inevitable.
Martin Moore, ex-CEO of CS Energy and currently the founder of YourCEOMentor, echoes those sentiments in noting that “one of the most critical skills for a leader is the ability to challenge, coach and confront their team. This requires many direct, honest, and empathetic conversations. Many leaders spend their entire careers avoiding confrontation.”
As faith-based not-for-profits, churches and schools (of those churches) and their constituents can be at risk of the selective use of individual organisation values to justify the decision to avoid being kind by being clear with staff, parents, students or congregation members.
If we accept the premise that every employee and every student has the right to learn and improve as do we as leaders, then they also have the right to open, honest feedback to inform that learning and improvement.
Coaching skills and the skill of holding difficult conversations are not innate. They need to be learned and practised just like any other skill. One of the professional learning priorities for the LEQ Secretariat Leadership Team in 2020 is to learn and develop professional coaching skills.