By Somali K Chakrabarti
“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~Dorothy Nevill
“Isn’t it surprising how many things, if not said immediately, seem not worth saying ten minutes from now?” ~Arnot L. Sheppard, Jr.
Life presents us with numerous situations when we have to take a call between what we should say, when, and what is better kept to ourselves.
The fine balance between seizing the opportunity to say the right things at the right moment and to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment is what differentiates a clear-minded person from a blabbermouth.
Balancing Communication as a Leader
A quality that is consistent among all good leaders is their ability to communicate well.
Communication does not refer to oratorical skills alone. It also means the ability to decide what is to be said, to whom, how it is to be said, and what is NOT to be said.
In both corporate world and in the political arena, we come across garrulous leaders who often make inane statements when those are least required, and also the ones who do not speak up even when needed. No prizes for guessing!
I agree that Leadership does not entail that you explain every thought, action or position of yours. If you are in a habit of explaining every action of yours, it may sometimes be perceived as a lack of confidence or may result in a lack of agility. But, at the same time, you are expected to be transparent to your people.
Hence, arises the need for balancing communication as a leader.
As a leader you can neither be a Black-box that absorbs all information and shares none, nor can you be a Conduit that passes on all your problems to the team.
Being Transparent vs Withholding Information
So what are the situations in which you need to be transparent vs the situations where you need to withhold information? Let’s have a look:
Being Transparent is best when:
Information shared will help people to improve their skills or perform better.
Your team has achieved something remarkable. Sharing success stories and passing on the laurels is a great way to boost morale.
You are trying out something new. Your need to help people to understand the objectives, what are your expectations from each of them, and how their actions will align with your overall objectives.
You are doing something in a way that deviates sharply from your normal way of action.
You have to correct a misconception or make your stand clear on an issue.
You have to disagree (preferably without ruffling feathers).
The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes. ~ Tony Blair [Tweet this]
Consider withholding if:
It amounts to micro management, when dealing with people with high skill levels.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” ~ George S. Patton [Tweet this]
Your remarks hint at someone’s limitation that could lead to discrimination, or could be taken as inflammatory.
Your explanation does not add value to the listener and may be perceived as unnecessary justification.
In crisis situation when quick action is needed.
You have to criticize someone, do it in private.
Information in consideration is confidential, privileged or could be a rumor.
This, by no means, is an exhaustive list.
Which point in the list can you relate with ? What are the other things in your opinion that a leader should not say?
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