By Brian Chernett, Founder, The Academy for Chief Executives

How do you react when one of your team points out weaknesses in your processes or products? Perhaps they seek you out and tell you face to face or send you an email. It is very tempting to react badly and to confront them — but what if what they say is true? Shouldn’t you know about something that may reflect poorly on the company?

Jim Collins — in Good to Great — suggests that the path to greatness starts with facing the brutal facts of current reality. The more clarity there is over the true situation, as opposed to the one you’d like to be the case, the more the right decisions become self evident.

Many businesses develop a culture, whether deliberately or accidentally, where the truth is not encouraged. Management choose to live in denial of the brutal facts that relate to their market, people, products or performance. The culture that Collins suggests works best when developing a Good to Great company is one where people can not only be heard but are encouraged to speak up In order for the truth to be heard, Collins suggests that we lead with questions, rather than answers, engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion, conduct autopsies without blame and build what he calls ‘red flag’ mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored.

What Collins terms Level 5 leadership is more likely to result in this sort of culture, whereas ‘charismatic’ leadership can make leaders unapproachable, resulting in incomplete information reaching those leaders who thus make poorer decisions. By accepting and dealing with the real issues, your good people will be better motivated and engaged.

Reputation depends not on words but on actions. How you respond to adversity can help to makes the difference between good and great. Hitting the realities head on can also give you the edge over competitors who fail to see the reality or to act upon it.

The ability to hold two conflicting ideas at the same time is one of the key skills here. Companies who can retain an absolute faith in their ability to succeed whilst confronting the real situation and taking corrective action are more likely to make big improvements in their performance than those who are in denial over the reality of their position.

Brian Chernett is the founder of The Academy for Chief Executives and Chairman of Academy Group ACE2. Having stepped down as Chief Executive of the Academy, Brian is now developing his own coaching and mentoring business — Wisdom Forums - for senior executives and building a new charity, The Ella Foundation, to coach and mentor Chief Executives in Charities and not for profit business.

Watch a video of Brian Chernett, Founder of The Academy For Chief Executives, explaining how The Academy For Chief Executives inspires business leaders.


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