Linking Candour to Leadership Character with Gen. Rick Hillier
Ivey Business Journal
Lack of candour stems from avoidance of difficult or uncomfortable situations. However, what begins as an attempt to avoid difficulty often turns into a series of bad decisions and bad consequences. Candour allows organizations to have better idea generation, faster problem solving through avoiding “beating around the bush,” and more efficient processes. The authors argue that candour requires character and that with character comes the judgment that ensures the appropriate expression of candour. Their research has shown that candour requires depth of character across eleven dimensions.
To understand candour in practice, the authors have interviewed General Rick Hillier, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces. Hillier defines positive candour as that which focuses on a leader’s charges. He refers to leaders making comments for personal gain — such as in the case of certain whistleblowers — as an example of negative candour. He explains that if a leader acts candidly, then they must expect their subordinates to be equally candid and must not punish them for doing so. Arguably, being candid is the best way to treat people fairly. However, Hillier clarifies that candour is culturally bound and that leaders must be patient and polite in their interactions with foreigners in order to ensure effective communication.
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