Emotional Safety® – Tell Me What I Don’t Want To Hear

There’s an old saying that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

When I deliver keynotes to leaders explaining why Emotional Safety® is the key to making smart decisions, I point out that if people don’t feel safe bringing you bad and/or challenging news, they won’t do it.

Now, on the surface, that might sound pretty nice. You only have to hear about the good stuff. But let me challenge you to think about it another way: You can only make decisions based on the information you have. If people aren’t bringing you the truth about what is happening in the organization, it means you are making decisions with extremely limited information.

Your perspective alone is almost always incomplete.

Getting people to feel “just okay” bringing you “bad” information puts you at a below-average level. You have to strive for more than that. You need people to have the Emotional Safety® to bring you any and all information that could affect your decision-making process.

In our book Step Up, Lead in Six Moments That Matter, we outline the steps to achieving Emotional Safety®. Let’s take a look at how you could put into practice one of the first steps, which is to give the people around you the gift of your invitation.

You might say something like this:

In the past, I may have acted in a way that made you feel I was resistant to bad news — and you know what? Maybe I was. That may have led you to think you should just tell me what I want to hear. Moving forward, please tell me what you think I don’t want to hear. It could be about a customer or vendor problem, an internal issue, or maybe you need to openly challenge a decision or offer feedback on my leadership style. I rely on you to be a second set of eyes and ears for me as I make decisions. So, going forward, please make it a habit of telling me what you think I don’t want to hear.

The more consistently and frequently you ask people to tell you what they think you don’t want to hear, the more they will be willing to try. Make them feel rewarded for doing it, and they will generate a constant flow of what you need to make smart decisions: the truth.

Try giving the people around you the gift of your invitation in one of your next conversations with your team members. Because the reality is, it’s what you don’t know that will usually come back around to hurt you.

If you want to learn more about the value of building Emotional Safety®, check out our post, “Get Angry, Not Stupid™.” You can also take the complimentary “Step-Up Assessment” at dynamicresults.com. For even more practical tools and a deeper dive, consider enrolling in our Emotional Safety® eSchool.

Become A Metrics Medalist

What makes the highest performing organizations better than the rest?

When I’m giving keynotes or working with some of the world’s leading companies, I’m often asked that question. The answer is way too big for a short video and I don’t proclaim to have all the answers.

With that said, our clients achieve extraordinary results by driving Accountability and Emotional Safety® into their interactions and the way they measure and communicate their results.

Competition is like the Olympics: you see levels of performance from some individuals and teams that simply outperform their competition. Culture is a complex and primary ingredient of success. Today, let’s focus on this one aspect of culture and performance, the creation and communication of good metrics.

I see a lot of “thought leaders” trying to sound impressive with complex explanations, let’s keep ours simple.

If you don’t have metrics and use language like “let’s do better” or “let’s try harder”, you simply don’t get a medal.

  • A Bronze Medal means that you have established a metric, where one did not exist before. This is often not enough to ensure success and…..it does show you are starting your success journey. It is usually binary like “as of today, we have a launch plan for our new product, complete with milestones”. It might be as simple as a basic timeline.
  • A Silver Medal means you have a way to measure your milestones along the success journey. For example, if having a prototype is one of your major milestones, having a prototype alone, may not earn you a medal. Having a metric on the milestone puts you at the Olympic level. Is having a prototype enough? Not for me. We hold our clients to a higher standard – how about “by December 12th, we have a prototype which has been tested to a reliability rate of 98% or higher”. Or “By December 12th, we have 1000 pre-orders for our new product”.
  • A Gold Medal means you have arrived at the destination of your success journey and like bronze and silver, in a way which is quantified. For example, “we have achieved a sales target of €300 million” OR “we have a 2-point lift in our NPS score” or “92% of our clients feel that our pizza is “very good” or “excellent”.
  • Please note that this last metric is subjective, and subjectivity is something I see many leadership teams resist. The fact is, in most industries, the consumer experience is your most important metric and….it is often completely subjective.

    Gold medalists embrace this subjectivity and they take a stand, applying specific measurements to subjectively measured achievements. Gold medalists have the courage to commit, even when an outcome is uncertain.

    Your success journey will need all three kinds of medalist experiences, Bronze to get started, with Silver and Gold as you go. Using this formula, our clients implement their strategies at 8x the rate of most organizations, something we hope you will do too.