Spinning Out of Control! (11/10/2017)
Image and message are everything! Anyone who doubts this need only look at last year's political process and the reporting of it. Politicians on both sides are spinning anything and everything to maintain standing; even things pertaining to the most critical issues of the day. And, notwithstanding that the foundation of any business is its core values and code of ethics, the spin or the story is all too prevalent in business as well.
Recently, I was discussing business with my nephew and asked which issues keep him up at night. He said “ the story.. at every meeting I’m always asked to come up with a story”. The story, the spin, and the narrative we create to support a position or explain a mistake has become part of the manager's arsenal. Something ready to go to enhance success or - in case we screw up - cushion the truth. When managers use spin and euphemism and “stories” to divert attention from or explain away a less attractive reality or perception it sets up a bigger mess than the one that exists. Spinning of results only serves to disguise something that may be toxic and can hamper progress through risk aversion and paranoia.
Authenticity and truth are the leader's best friend. Leaders who are true to their own personalities and values regardless of the pressure they have to act otherwise are trusting of their own judgement and decisions. As a result, they gain the trust of others. When our clients, coworkers and bosses look to us for information, they expect to hear the truth and not spin. Professionals with good communication skills can put a good face on the facts and represent areas of weakness without making a concern sound like an advantage or worse, a good outcome.
The key takeaways are these:
- Spinning or reframing information to gain advantage is stressful. The disconnect between your natural or authentic self and your adapted behavior will impact your ability to move forward and make decisions confidently.
- Asking your team to come up with a "story" assumes one is needed when the truth is well...the truth. If you are honest and truthful early and often expectations will be managed.
- A good communicator can relay good or "not so good" news in a clear, concise and professional manner. Emphasize the development of communications skills with your team through role playing and anticipating the difficult questions you can expect from at least two levels above you.
- A word to the wise - nothing is off limits. If you think that a question will not be asked it's a sure bet it will so be prepared and,
- eventually everyone sees through the spin and you will have to deal with whatever the spin was intended to mask. It's better to do that sooner rather than later.
A well thought-out and defined business plan with scheduled check points and executive sponsorship will reduce if not eliminate the need for spin and stories. If you are communicating progress and identifying challenges that are named and assigned, the transparency of your operations will allow you to be truthful and authentic. You will be trusted and respected - a lot better than being known as a spin doctor.
Real Leadership Associates' mentoring offers include working with you to develop a comprehensive business plan with well defined goals. Additionally I will work with you to create effective presentations and will test drive them with you. Contact Beth for more information.
Enjoy! I'll talk to you again soon. Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Talk to you next month!