How You Handle Bad News Is The Ultimate Test Of Leadership

Vermont flooding

Photo: Chelsea Witt via Burlington Free Press

How does bad news flow where you are? I think the handling of the bad news is an interesting test of leadership and organizational health.

  1. Real leaders get the bad news first. If the boss isn’t the first one a person tells about problems and bad news, then there’s something wrong with that boss. Why is there a delay? What are they afraid of? People instinctively go to a real leader with bad news because they want the leader to know quickly and they expect the leader to come up with the right response.
  2. Real leaders deliver bad news quickly and well. In many ways that’s a test of leadership. Hiding bad news is rarely a good idea.
  3. Real leaders take responsibility for bad news. They jump in and collaborate on solutions. Bucks don’t get passed.

I’ve seen this phenomenon for years, in small business and entrepreneurship. I think I see it in larger politics, too.

What do you think?

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