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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Candor in the Workplace – Part Two – The Bad & The Ugly

Part Two – The Bad & The Ugly

In article one, we discussed Candor and how it is multi-faceted. The title says everything, and so today, we will examine how The Bad and The Ugly of candor in the workplace as far as leadership is concerned.

The Bad

While generally regarded as a positive attribute, Candor in leadership can have negative repercussions if not exercised judiciously. Here are some scenarios in which candor may become detrimental to subordinates, peers, and superiors:
Lack of Sensitivity – Exercising candor without sensitivity to individual differences, emotions, or cultural nuances can lead to unintended harm. Honest feedback or criticism delivered without empathy or consideration for the recipient’s feelings may undermine morale, erode trust, and damage relationships.

Undermining Confidence – Overly, blunt, or harsh communication can demotivate subordinates and erode their confidence. Continuous criticism or a lack of recognition for achievements without balanced feedback can create a culture of fear and insecurity, stifling creativity and productivity.

Damaging Relationships – Candor, when wielded without tact or diplomacy, can strain relationships and hinder collaboration. Publicly calling out mistakes or shortcomings, rather than providing constructive feedback in private, can damage professional rapport and impede effective communication channels.

Disrupting Team Dynamics – Excessive candor within teams can lead to conflicts and interpersonal tensions. While healthy debate and constructive criticism are essential for growth, unchecked candor can escalate into personal attacks, power struggles, and team trust breakdowns.

The Ugly

Creating Hostility – Candor can breed resentment among peers and superiors when perceived as arrogant or insensitive. Leaders who consistently dominate conversations with their opinions, dismiss alternative viewpoints, or belittle others’ contributions may alienate their colleagues and hinder collaboration and teamwork.

Breeding Mistrust – In some cases, leaders may use candor as a guise for manipulation or deceit. Being overly candid about certain information while withholding critical details can erode trust and credibility. This can occur when leaders selectively share information to advance their agenda or maintain control over decision-making processes.

Fostering a Culture of Fear – If candor is associated with punishment or retaliation for speaking up, employees may be reluctant to share their ideas, concerns, or feedback openly. This creates a culture of fear and silence, where valuable insights are suppressed and organizational learning is inhibited.

While candor in leadership is essential for fostering transparency, accountability, and authentic communication, it must be tempered with empathy, tact, and discretion. Leaders must be mindful of the potential negative impact of their candid communication on subordinates, peers, and superiors and strive to strike a balance between honesty and sensitivity in their interactions.

It’s completely understandable to want to be honest and transparent with your team while being mindful of their feelings and maintaining positive relationships. Balancing candor with tact is indeed crucial in effective leadership.

So, there you have it. As we learned from article one, candor can be an excellent leadership quality. To learn more about some of the not-so-certain and how to build the balance of an organization, look forward to tomorrow’s – The Teeter Totter of Culture and How to Balance it All.

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