In my many years working as a leadership consultant, executive coach and motivational speaker, I have learned that I see the world a lot differently than most. For a long time, I thought that seeing things differently from others was problematic. But now in the current stage of my career, I am appreciating what an asset seeing the world differently from others can be and how many lessons I have learned as a result of always thinking outside the box.
One lesson that took me a while to learn was how vital it is to tell clients what they need to hear versus what they want to hear. In my very early years as a consultant, I was really good at telling clients what they wanted to hear. By always making our clients feel good about what they are doing on top of delivering great work, our clients were happy. The trouble with only telling them what they wanted to hear, meant we were avoiding sharing insights with the clients that they potentially needed to hear.
Admittedly, I was young, ambitious and eager to quickly please my clients. In those days, that meant focusing on the positive side of everything because making our clients happy was my company’s focus. After all, why would I want to trouble clients with difficult or potentially negative news?
This positive client service approach was great for our immediate sales, however in the long run I knew I could be offering my clients a more in-depth holistic perspective of their business by being more transparent about both their positive and negative insights. I still avoided doing this because like I said before, I was young and thought clients might associate bad news in their business as a result of my service. In a nutshell, I was afraid that if I was anything but positive, my clients would focus their displeasure on the messenger and not the message.
Overtime, I learned that nothing could be further from reality. While there still is a huge perceived risk in being honest with clients about their people, processes or their overall business, the majority of our clients are deeply appreciative of the unvarnished truth.
Today our mandate with all our clients has changed. While we still focus on creating positive relationships with our clients, we do so by sharing the unvarnished realities about their business from our experienced perspective. We believe it’s more important to tell the client what they need to hear, even if it risks pissing them off. I believe that sharing the inconvenient truths with our clients is not only a requirement as consultants; it is our business imperative.
This is why:
If your business involves leading people, know that people will (over time) develop patterns of behaviour and eventually those behaviours will reveal performance vulnerabilities. Left unattended, those vulnerabilities impact workplace culture, leadership skill gaps, unspoken conflicts, high-potential talent becoming high-potential flight risks, stagnant growth, gaps in succession, and so on. The business problem list can be long and is often unique to every business.
The trouble is that most businesses and even business leaders are operating too fast to recognize these patterns emerging. Too often people are thought of as being the problem, when really it is not the people that are the problem, but rather their behaviour patterns overtime. Unfortunately many leaders lack either the capacity, the competence or confidence to identify these behavioural patterns. We know that people are seldom the single problem, so that is where we step in to help. Leadership behaviour is our expertise; forged out of hard lessons and many years of experience.
So as one of our potential clients, we hope you know that we will share the inconvenient and unvarnished truths with you. Not only because we feel it is our duty as ILG consultants, but because your business deserves nothing but the best leadership development experiences and creating better leaders is better for your business.
We are passionate about helping our clients better cope with professional challenges, difficult business relationships and any psychosocial stress in their workplace. We would love to work with you!