A Candor Care Culture


Rick Barnes, the UT Basketball Coach, suggests you want a team of ‘truth-tellers’. As much as he hires and recruits for this, he also develops this culture. Whether he’s giving the "truth" to someone or vice versa, an hour after this strong feedback with a player, he’s playing Xbox with them.

I’ve started to listen to Jack Welch’s “Winning” audio tapes. He concurs and suggests the biggest change in GE is when they evolved their culture to one of “Candor” – people telling it like it is. Direct, open, honest…sometimes brutal. But always healthy.

What makes this work? A CEO coach once told me that ‘they don’t care how much I know until they know how much I care.”

Caring is the key ingredient to produce candor. Want a direct, open, honest culture? Then make a connection. Make it safe to be real, to share an opinion, to disagree. The boss, peer or employee must know there’s enough care and trust to share the truth.


1) State the intent — As a leader, explicitly state this philosophy — you want direct feedback, and there is not repercussion. And that you will give direct feedback, but once that’s over, the relationship is in tact.

2) Set an example – allow a disagreement to occur and show favor to those who disagree. I’m not suggesting fabricate this as a practice, but people need to see that those who receive strong feedback (if in public) or disagree will recover and sustain respect.

3) Compromise – show you are willing to be wrong.  Admit mistakes. Show humility. I’ve held contests with my team to show I welcome challenge against my opinion. I hope I’m proven wrong, at least once in a while ;-), to set an example.

4) Care – Do you know anything about what motivates your people? Bottom line, it’s difficult for someone to receive feedback, advice, direction, or correction without knowing you care and respect them.

These are just some ideas. I’m sure there are more. Candor is one of the most powerful change management, team improvement and people development tools we can have. And you can’t have it without caring.

One Response

  1. Mike Bawden says:

    Great, insightful post. I’m trying to find more blog posts on corporate culture and this one was perfect. Thanks.
    I’ve referred to it on my blog, “Much Ado About Marketing”.
    Thanks again,
    Mike Bawden
    Brand Central Station

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