I like those disclaimers at the beginning of every rated R movie. This movie is rated R as it contains graphic images, profanity, and may be disturbing to some viewers. It basically means get out of the theater or turn off your television if you don’t want to see and hear this. The same can be said for leadership. Being a leader means talking about the nudity, profanity, and graphic images.
I recently experienced an internal culture initiative where one of the “new” values is supposed to be relationships. To me, relationships are all about trust, understanding, and connecting on common ground. It doesn’t mean to void out all privacy, or to share information with the intent to hurt someone. It does mean to be real, to be authentic, to be honest, to be caring, to be compassionate, to be brave, and to admit and own the rated G and the rated R material
In one recent example, a group of leaders decided they did not want to share information with other business partners that they are ‘in a relationship’ with. “We can’t let them hear that or see that!” “They will ask too many questions!” “They will get scared!” “They will think we don’t have our act together!” Maybe the way to approach a situation like this would be to have that rated R disclaimer before the meeting or as a heading to the email. It may read like this: The format of this meeting is to be real and authentic. It is to allow our staff to bring potential problems and risks to the forefront so we can mitigate the risks and reduce or eliminate any negative impact. We want our employees to feel safe in an environment where they can ask real questions and get real answers, and comment about real situations and gain real understanding, coaching, and direction. As part of this process, you may see or hear the naked truth, the graphic and disturbing images of our day to say work struggles. This meeting has been rated R and is intended only for those viewers who are willing to work through the profanity and graphic nature of true problem solving