For those who think that leading is easy, just take a look around you to see what kinds of issues face our leaders today. It is not uncommon for someone to be questioning your integrity, motives, ethnic heritage and sexual preferences all at the same time. Being only human but not being able to exercise those attributes that surely characterize us, we are forced into constantly defending who we are and what we are expected to do in a gentlemanly or womanly manner (whatever that might be). We are denied the right to speak our mind, and in the terms of the layman “tell it like it is.” Instead, we do what is not good for us—bundle it up in some neat little emotional package and, if we cannot forget it, dwell on it until it becomes a true irritant.
While I recognize the importance of leading by example, it just might be beneficial to “tell it like it is” and vent frustration and alleviate emotional pain. Telling it like it is could surely extend to saying those words and uttering those phrases that give us relief and comfort.
We all know that there are words that are forbidden in polite company but uttered frequently in private. Possibly just once in a while we should say what we are thinking. It is a proven fact that when we are experiencing intense pain, it helps to swear or otherwise use language that just isn’t generally acceptable, but the lesson is obvious in the outcome—we feel better even though we might regret having said what we wanted. It is important to understand that the opportunity to communicate our true feelings as leaders is hijacked by role expectations that are superimposed on the position we hold. So letting go could be what the doctor has ordered for the leader under pressure.
It is prudent, however, not to overuse those words that help to reduce frustration; doing so wears thin and over the long run dulls and is not effective. Being blunt and expressive is an art, and saying what comes to mind in a particular situation needs to be measured against the fallout that often occurs. There is power in words—whether it is for a release of emotion or to otherwise make a point. Choose your occasion, but remain cognizant of who is looking and hearing.