Being Direct As A Strategy

Candor is a key leadership attribute.  This is especially true today when we are bombarded by convoluted and ambiguous messages from people and companies.  Those that can speak clearly and plainly can create a great differentiation in the marketplace where clarity is highly sought after.

Being direct means you tell the truth and are focused on being understood for the other person’s benefit.  This can have both positive and negative consequences.  There are many advantages to being direct.  Here are a few benefits I have found from my own personal experience and working with clients:

  • You experience great freedom.  You don’t have to live with managing to other people continually.  You can speak from your own convictions.  Conviction allows you to build great things such as friendships, companies and institutions.  Look at Steve Jobs, Thomas Watson and John Sperling.  Their conviction and forthrightness felt by others change the world.
  • Candor builds trust.  Being direct may repel some people.  However, your audience doesn’t have to guess what you are thinking.  If your directness is part of your brand, it can be a powerful way to connect and grow trust.  You can be counted on to tell the truth and say it the way it is.
  • Segmentation and qualification are easier.  Standing for something quickly helps you identify who resonates with your message and who is not a fan.  Trying to please everyone is a poor strategy for winning.  Winning a popularity contest is elusive.  Everyone comes with different prejudices and passions.  Instead, be direct and watch how your audience develops over time.  These are your true fans.
  • You save time.  You may have been in meetings where there was not a decision made or clarity on what to do.  Who can afford such ineptness today?  Directness can cut through the fog and get to actions and decisions.  This is what moves the ball forward.  Continual deliberation is both exhausting and wasteful of everyone’s most important asset – their time.  Dealing with the truth helps everyone to cut to the issue quickly and get something meaningful done.
  • Directness builds a platform.  Your platform is given to you by your audience.  It is access to speak what you think.  This is a powerful marketing channel and tribe that will give you attention, loyalty, and revenue.  There’s a reason that books like Rework by 37Signals and the Power Of Less by Leo Babauta become best sellers.  Their audience relies on them being direct and telling it the way it is.

My mother used to call people who had no opinion or backbone “a leaf in the wind.”  It has always been an apt visual to witness those that have a hard time being direct and standing for something.

The world is segmenting every day along the lines of clear convictions.  Be clear about what you stand for and flex your directness muscles.  You might be surprised of the benefits.

What has kept you from being more direct?  What have you found from being direct in your communications?

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