Professionals tell each other half truths all the time. “I’m busy” can be a cover for, “revenues are down, but we have been working hard,” or, “we are working hard but not making much headway.”
Half truths are told to prospective members when we show only the best of the organization. But more dangerous is when we tell half truths to interviewees, or to each other while we are making critical decisions, or to managers who are counting on a particular outcome.
Recently I sat down with a board whose members were delightfully candid about the state of the organization. They talked about the challenges of the past, the tough decisions they have had to make, and the challenges to come. I got the distinct sense our conversation was unfiltered.
Over time this group of professionals has figured out that the key to effective teamwork is safety. They are friends. They respect each other. There is a lot of laughter in their meetings. They listen to each other. They are honest. They are not competitive. All of this paves the way for any one of them to introduce a difficult or unpopular topic.
Watch for the uncomfortable shuffle. Listen to pauses and hedging. Note when someone tells a less compelling story to the group versus what they said in private. When we hear filtered comments or half-truths in staff or board meetings, we know we have to make all the team members feel safer.