The Bitter Honesty Pill

Ever had a boss that hated surprises, or bad news, or any news that was not good news? Obviously all of the subordinates simply improved their work ethic and ensured problems never happened. Obviously this is a lie. In reality, a boss that hates bad news fuels an environment where honesty is not maintained and by the time the necessary information is made public, it is often too late to fix the problems.

People should never be afraid of the truth. If an organization is plagued by issues, it is only by confronting those issues head on that the organization will improve. Therefore the honest and open flow of information is a pivotal part of communication both inside and outside of the company.

Consider the service member who simply fails to inform his team or squad leader that his M68 close combat optic on his M4 does not have a working battery. Or perhaps it is the lack of oil in a vehicle, or the fact that a sensitive piece of equipment has been lost. These seemingly simple omissions can result in a domino effect that will overthrow the company, or at the very minimum make people jump through hoops to solve problems.

Army TrainingIt seems a trite comment, that honesty is the best policy – but it must be openly received for it to be openly given. If a service member knows that coming forward with an issue – any issue, will at the very least be received with less hostility than if the issue is discovered later. The loss of equipment, the damaged individual clothing, or just an unserviceable weapon can change a training event from effective to miserable.

As a leader, open communication and dialogue must reign supreme. It must be something that is expected and demanded. Subordinates will watch and observe leaders to determine how they react to negative news. We have likely all worked for the type of leader who is more likely to hand you a shovel and tell you to start digging your own grave. It can be a necessary element of military life, but it should not always be the solution to any problem.

It would be better to be open and honest early about problems – providing the opportunity for leadership to inject solutions before it requires massive fiery hoop jumping. This is better for all. It cuts down on repeated trips with military vehicles and reduces unnecessary time being wasted that could have been spent training. Subordinates learn the importance of conducting checks, junior leaders in verifying, senior leaders in asking, and all elements in actually reporting.

A good command climate is not impossible to achieve while still maintaining the standards. It simply puts the burden of being professional in front of raw emotions. By ensuring that the command climate within an organization is positive, leaders at all levels will keep the door open to subordinates and ensure that they too remain informed as to the true status of their organization.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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