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Leaders, be good bad news takers

Insight

13 July 2016

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In my line of work I'm lucky to hear the perspectives of many excellent leaders. Recently, I heard one such leader share his top leadership lesson with some keen managers. It was to be a 'good bad news taker'. I loved its simplicity. He didn't describe the intricacies of his journey to a C-suite role in a blue chip organisation or cite well-trodden management theory. He just told people to be good at taking bad news. 

The only problem with this beautiful advice is that it's easier said than done. We are people. We bring our bad days to work and, on those days, being a good bad news taker is tougher than normal. 

So what's the trick to it I thought? Is there even a trick or is it constant awareness of yourself, how you feel, how you typically react and on-going moderation? 

Maybe the trick is in your body language combined with the first words you utter in response. The difference between 'Whose fault is this?' and 'What's got in the way?' Or, better still 'What can we learn from this?'

What about being open about your own deficiencies and the mistakes you've made so that people you lead know that perfection isn't always possible?

The advice almost got me wishing for some bad news to test my new strategies. Then I realised I'd be happy to wait! 

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