Let me first start by saying that I am not always a fan of ‘all-things-Jack-Welch’, but do think he hits the nail on the head when it comes to a few topics- One in particular is the topic of ‘candor‘. The dictionary.com definition of candor is simply, “the state or quality of being frank, open, and sincere in speech or expression“. And while this definition is exactly what Welch talks about, I think his definitions are a tad more harsh.
I was listening to a 2009 Stanford Business interview with Jack Welch, on my way to work this morning, and it reminded me of some of his important, and all-so-true points on the topic of candor. I think most people and organizations can stand to practice the art of candor a little more frequently in their day to day.
Jack Welch’s 3 Key Points on Practicing Candor:
- Candor gets more people in the conversation, and when you get more people in the conversation, to state the obvious, you get idea rich. More ideas get surfaced, discussed, pulled apart, and improved.
- Candor generates speed. When ideas are in everyone’s face, they can be debated rapidly, expanded and enhanced, and acted upon. The approach is Surface, Debate, Improve, and Decide.
- Candor cuts costs. You may never be able to put a precise number on it, but it eliminates meaningless meetings and b.s. reports that confirm what everyone already knows.
Here’s one important, albeit contradictory tip on being candid. Use it wisely and in the right company. No matter how awesome it sounds to just tell it like it is, there will always be feelings and politics involved. So while you should still work towards candor, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
TAKE ACTION: Sometimes it helps to actually ask for permission to be candid when you’re speaking with someone. This offers something like a warning to the other person that what you’re about to say may come off more harsh than they would expect. Make sure they understand why you are being candid, are your true objectives. Hey, maybe you can even teach them about being candid, and its benefits.