Are you running a business, or an organization, or a team? For a quick rating of your own leadership, ask yourself these questions about bad news:

  1. How quickly do you get the bad news? A real leader is the first person to hear bad news. People don’t wait to tell you. They don’t tell each other first. And they certainly don’t hide bad news from you. That happens because they know you want to hear bad news fast; and because you handle it well (see below). That doesn’t mean you’re always on the lookout spotting the bad news first, but it does mean that when anybody in your organization sees bad news, you are the first person they tell.
  2. How do you respond to bad news? A real leader responds immediately with collaboration that includes the team. You focus on reaction, response, changes required, but not blame. If you react to bad news by establishing blame, you will not be the first person to hear it.

To make this test work, be honest with yourself. If the answers to these two questions seem like bad news, respond to the bad news with change. Change your style, talk to your team, make it clear you want to hear bad news first.

Good news is great, but the bad news is where the management comes in. Bad news is where you look first for what has to change.

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