Lessons in candour and failing successfully, for individuals and organisations
Being human means those inevitable internal debates about balancing candour, failures and being socially accepted.
If I admit my bad behaviour, will people still like me?
If revealing some truths hurts someone, do they really need to know?
Those real fears, that revealing the “warts and all” side of ourselves to people important to us, results in them caring less for us.
The anxiety, that sharing the ugly facts your friend doesn’t know about their paramour, could crush your friend, or your relationship with your friend. Or both. The worry on the other hand, that keeping your friend in the dark will result in them being harmed by a toxic partner.
Its an uncomfortable balancing act
Sharing our vulnerable, authentic self or thorny truths with people feels risky, because of our human need to have connections with others, to be liked and to belong.
It feels uncomfortable, even with our own knowledge that we trust people who share their mistakes and show themselves to be fallible, demonstrating they’re as human as we are.
The reality of our experiences, that the more we trust someone, the stronger, more forgiving and more resilient our relationship will be.
Candour creates trust which creates strong, caring relationships
A relationship which starts with and sustains both parties being candid and authentic, means they trust each others’ actions are coming from a place of care.
In these strong and authentic relationships, revealing our “warts and all” selves maintains the relationship, rather than weakening it. As does the sharing of uncomfortable truths about each other.
Does this simple equation apply to organisations?
In Australia the recent Royal Commission into Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutions and the current Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, have revealed organisations that dramatically and repeatedly failed to be candid in their relationships. Remaining silent and inactive on matters vital to their employees, their customers and consumers, regulators, shareholders and the society in which they operated.
Organisations deliberately covering up damaging actions, decisions and mistakes, failing to meet obligations to numerous stakeholders, ultimately losing the trust of their stakeholders. This loss of trust frequently accompanied by a huge financial cost to the organisation.
If these organisations had always been transparent about any mistakes, poor decisions or actions, and prompt in addressing these, would they have had stronger, more resilient relationships with their stakeholders?
Would this have minimised any subsequent loss of trust and costs to the organisation, if its stakeholders believed the organisation was always candid as part of its relationship with them?
The art of successful failure
Research shows that organisations are “much better off admitting that something is wrong and addressing it in as authentic and transparent a way as possible.”
Its the art of failing successfully, that reduces associated risks and costs, whilst enabling organisations to move forward with their relationships with stakeholders.
Key to failing successfully, is maintaining candid and trust based relationships in life and in business, from the start.