I’ve worked with a lot of leaders. I’m sure you have too. Like you, I’ve noticed that the the further you go up the chain, the lonelier you get. Leaders have very few people to turn to. As they fill the shoes of the previous leaders, they also feel the vacuum of sincere input, feedback and ultimately – the truth.
Perhaps lonelier than having nobody to talk to is having many to talk to, but nobody to really talk back. Absence of the truth can be the loneliest existence there is. At least when I am alone, I have a true sense of being, of who I am, of the realities that surround me. But leaders in organizations often exist without those realities, having to fight emotional, political, and worse – cultural battles to get good, useful information about whats really happening in their organizations. And even then, the truth eludes them.
Its like a big hide-and-go-seek game you can never really win. Sure, once in a while you catch some, but there’s always the good kids that manage to elude you until its time to go home. If we put our eyes together, I’d bet we could see the truth run and hide behind the water cooler, scoot off into the kitchen and duck into the bathroom as the boss comes down the hall.
So here’s the worst for me: I can tell when people are holding things back in meetings, saying yes without giving their opinions and generally mentally rolling their eyes, even though they spout those spunky little, eager-beaver faces. Do you know how I know?
Its not what they say or don’t say in the meetings, its what they say after. Listen to groups of people after they leave a meeting and you will see the energy, consternation and yes – the truth – flow out of them. Better yet, listen to how the banter changes following a meeting where someone actually speaks up and delivers the truth.
Oh yes, people of organizational life – your leaders crave for you to tell them the truth. Your stress levels are begging for you to tell the truth. You grow indifferent not because the boss doesnt care, but because you dont care enough to speak up.
Yes, it is true: The Truth shall set you free.