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It’s hard to trust someone who only shares good news

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Can you trust someone who only tells you good things? I don’t think so.

Here’s why and what it means for leaders.

If someone is only sharing good news with you (including feedback on your performance, opportunities you’re seeking or anything else that could personally affect you), that means one of two things must be true:

  1. You’re perfect and everything is going your way
  2. They’re withholding feedback

Our ego will jump at 1. But the truth must be 2.

If someone is withholding feedback, they’re not giving us the whole truth.

And they’re often robbing us of the opportunity to improve.

It means that they’re either:

  1. Feeling psychologically unsafe in our presence
  2. Prioritising their short term comfort (i.e. avoiding hard conversations) over our growth

As leaders, we must work deliberately and tirelessly to create and maintain psychological safety in our team.

We have to remain abundantly approachable, so that the people who report to us can tell us what we need to hear (not just what we want to hear), despite the power difference between us.

The flip side is is true too. If you’re not sharing measured bad news with your team members (with the right intentions), they’ll likely start wondering what you’re not telling them.

And there are few things more unsettling than wondering if your boss thinks you’re doing a bad job.

Building trust with your team members is of fundamental importance.

One way to do this is to show them that you’re prepared to deliver bad news (in a thoughtful, caring and helpful way), when required.

Where to next?

  1. Read why it’s selfish of leaders to withhold feedback from team members
  2. Read about how communication should be measured at the listener’s ear, not the speaker’s mouth