Hi, I’m Henry Evans, founder and Managing Partner of Dynamic Results, and I’m also coauthor of the book “Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter,” coauthored with my friend and colleague, Dr. Colm Foster.
Did you know that Colm and I have given you a brand new title? We’d like you to think of yourself, moving forward, as the Director of Emotional Safety™. Here’s what we mean: the higher you go on the organizational chart, the more authority you have; and sometimes, the less accountability you have. I’ve heard Dr. Foster say this really well – Colm says, “The higher you go on the organizational chart, fewer and fewer people are going to be willing to tell you when you are doing something wrong. Or, tell you when people are saying bad things about you, because they’re afraid to challenge you due to the authority that you’re carrying. People need to feel safe when they’re bringing you bad news, or you’re going to continue to make really big decisions with little or no real-time information.”
Another thing I’ve heard Colm say well is that, “If a decision you made turns out to be a bad one, you really won’t hear that, and you won’t have an opportunity to grow if people don’t feel safe bringing you that kind of news.” We suggest that you encourage people to point out problems in the organization, if they exist, with you. Make them feel safe doing that.
We call receiving that information being the Director of ‘Emotional Safety™’ — we call giving it tough love. Organizations who want to thrive and compete are comfortable having these dialogues when needed.
You might be thinking along the lines of a client organization we were taking through our Strategic Planning process last year. They said, “What about Steve Jobs? He would berate and ridicule people in meetings if he didn’t like their ideas.” And I said, “You’re right—Steve Jobs was an exception to the rule that Colm and I are talking about, and he achieved amazing, earth-shattering, industry changing results while treating people very harshly.” I paused, and said, “I don’t think any of us in this room are Steve Jobs. I don’t know about any movies that have been made about us, or books that have been written about us—and so if we’re not that way, we probably can’t get away with behaving like that.”
In short, it’s the leader’s job to create Emotional Safety™ for others, so that you remain aware of what’s really happening. It allows you to be informed while you’re making choices.
As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on Facebook to share your experiences or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you enjoyed this month’s article and look forward to seeing you again next month. Follow Henry on Twitter, @HenryJEvans.