Go looking for bad news

As a leader, one of the skills you need to develop is to “go looking for bad news.” Part of your job is to find, and then face up to, the problems and aggravations that routinely occur in any business.

If you’re not aware of any problems, that’s a problem in and of itself. You need to get in touch with your organization. How? Invite the bad news!

No one likes getting bad news. But in organizations, it’s also true that no one likes giving bad news.

As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment where the truth is told—whether it’s good or bad. Make it easy for people to tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear.  Discipline yourself to reward people who identify problems, report organizational breakdowns, and recommend solutions they can execute. Don’t shoot the messenger who carries bad news. Make it clear that the truth is welcome.

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Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment, so deputize every employee. If your people say there’s a problem, take it seriously. They see things you cannot see, and they look at the things you can see in a different light then you do. Their perspective may be better than yours. At the very least, their viewpoint is important to them, and thus should be important to you.

You are a busy person. You’ve got your hands full. The last thing you want is to find is a problem. But, instead of looking for proof that everything is working perfectly, look for evidence that they aren’t.

Ignoring problems doesn’t make they go away, in fact, the more you avoid bad news the less people believe in your leadership.

The truth is, good leaders see bad news for what it is: an opportunity. Start identifying new opportunities today by working to transform your organizational environment into a truth-seeking culture.