14 March, 2018

Let's just call a spade a spade

Let's just call a spade a spade

In 1542 a phrase was introduced to the English language, and used later by literary giants like Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens, to be frank in conversations.

To ‘call a spade a spade’.

This phrase is still relevant today and is required to be used tactfully in leadership. Without the ability to speak one’s mind, then we end up with groupthink* – a dangerous proposition.

Recently I had to ‘call a spade a spade’ with an organisation I am involved with. I want to share this experience with you, because I think it is valuable to see what the outcomes have been since.

I am on a regional committee in Cairns, for a National Organisation. I am passionate about this organisation and the change they are wanting to achieve for the community they serve. This organisation has a new strategy and has made some significant changes over the last 12 months. Many of the Cairns committee have been around for a while and some disagree with the changes being made within the organisation. This has resulted in the committee lacking a sense of identity within the organisation.

Where a sense of identity is lacking then the following often results:

  • Communication within the group is ineffective;
  • Motivation for the work of the group declines;
  • The group behaviour becomes individualistic; and
  • There is a lack of social support within the group.

Recently, I saw this coming and I decided that I had to ‘call a spade a spade’. I was frank in my assessment and to the point in what I felt needed to happen. But as a leader, most importantly, I was willing to be part of the change.

Since placing my spade into the mix, this seems to have got others thinking and it has snapped some people out of groupthink. Some have decided that they are not a right fit for the organisation and left and others have stepped up and realised that a shift in the group behaviour is needed.

My hope, is that through the effective setting of a strategy, that is aligned to the National organisation, then a group of people can come together in Cairns with a strong sense of shared identity. When this strong sense of identity is built, then leaders and their followers are bound together and the process of social influence can occur.

I will keep you updated on the progress.

*Groupthink – the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, resulting typically in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.

Passionate about leadership too? If you have a specific question about the growth of your leadership or others, let me know. Simply email me at [email protected] and ask away.

© 2019 Paul Mead