When Shawn H. Wilson played high school football, he had a coach who “used to really ride me.” One day, he gathered his nerves and confronted his coach about it.
His coach looked at him and shrugged. “You know what?” he said. “Don’t worry about it. When I stop talking to you, that’s when you should worry.”
Years later, as president of Usher’s New Look Foundation, which offers youth programming, he gets it. “As a supervisor, when I’m coaching an employee, it’s because I see the potential in that person. When I stop talking to that person, that means I’ve given up, and that’s a really bad sign,” he says. When that person’s open to it and I’m open to it, that’s a great relationship. But when I close down, that’s not a good thing.”
As a leader, he puts a premium on openness and communication. To drive his team toward success, he asks that employees assume a “no-spin” attitude in talking about problems. The “spin” happens when people start making excuses for why something has gone wrong. Wilson simply wants to hear the facts and the core truth.
You can’t improve an organization if you’re not talking about the problems or what lies at the core of the problem.
— Adapted from “Caution, Please: The Boss’s Office Is a No-Spin Zone,” Adam Bryant, The New York Times.