by Michael Holland    

Having the courage to communicate what needs to be communicated can at times appear to be a rare quality in leaders.  Leaders are often faced with situations which require thoughtful and delicate communications to make sure they clearly articulate information without harming others in the process.

In sensitive employment situations – pending layoffs, performance challenges, and untimely departures – some leaders find it easier to avoid potential conflicts by avoiding any communications or limiting the communications to politically correct (and surely legally approved) sound bites.  This can lead to information gaps and, when in doubt, employees will be imaginative while filling those gaps.

The leadership opportunity in courageous communication is to be able to impart the values and standards you desire to set as a leader for your team and in some cases the whole organization.  Take the case of an untimely departure of an employee to pursue other interests, or more clearly, the employee is being fired for not performing at the standards expected for the role.  Great leaders – and those aspiring to be better leaders – will seize upon this situation as an opportunity to re-educate employees on desired behaviors and expected standards of performance.

Employees won’t just get it; that’s why the job is called leading.  You are to guide, instruct, go before, show the way, model, command, captivate, and motivate.  You are held to a higher standard and thus you should model valued behaviors.  Your courage – or lack thereof – will be felt throughout your team.