[December 21, 2016] One thing I like most about great leaders is that they don’t mince their words. My grandmother reminded me often to “speak plainly and loudly” if I wanted to be heard above others. She was one to never filter what she thought and taught all us grandchildren to never disguise our thinking in “double talk like the lawyers do.”
She wasn’t fond of lawyers but they provided a tremendous vehicle for her to use as how not to do something. Good and evil were always clear to her and was certainly one of the reasons she taught us the Bible, the Golden Rule, and that moral courage paid off if one had a firm grasp of what the concept of good was all about.
It was no surprise to her that we turned out pretty well as a bunch of grandkids who got into trouble more than we should have. She made sure we obeyed the rules (mostly anyway) and that we were honest enough to tell her, our parents, and others like we saw it. If we were wrong, it would be obvious; if we were right, it would also be obvious as long as we spoke clearly and directly, even if it upset others or got us into more trouble.
I’m told that retired Marine General James Mattis, nominated for U.S. Secretary of Defense by President-Elect Trump, is famous for his straight talk. Some say he has no “filter” on his words1 and while that may be a problem for politicians, it is an asset for those in the military that operate where the truth matters.
How he works this out as the new SecDef should be beneficial to us all. It’s my belief that anyone who has responsibility for our nation’s defense should always speak their thoughts clearly and directly to the American people.
I’ve been personally fortunate to have work for some of the U.S. military’s greatest modern commanders. Suffice it to say that they were exceptional at bringing into focus even the most complex issues that confronted us and were able to provide the clear guidance and mentoring necessary for us to make the mission successful. That is what great leaders do.
As a southern boy my first grade teacher (a wonderful lady) was fond of telling me not to him-haw around. I’m not sure that him-haw is a southern idiom or not but it meant to me that I was wasting someone’s time with talk that really didn’t say anything, expect to design to stall or waste time. It was the same advice my grandmother gave me but just in another format.
Leaders don’t mince their words with people and it’s easy to tell the difference in great leaders and just any leader. It’s one of those daily good habits that the best leaders have in their pocket.2
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]