Dr Kirstin Ferguson: Leaders, we need extreme transparency & fearless honesty right now

Dr Kirstin Ferguson: We need extreme transparency and fearless honesty from leaders right now

Dr Kirstin Ferguson has shared her thoughts on leadership during the current global crisis, urging leaders to act courageously and honestly and with an understanding of the panic some people feel. The below was first published on Facebook, and has been shared here with permission. 

There seems to be an inability amongst many (not just in Australia but around the world) to accept or see that extreme transparency and fearless honesty at times like this will actually reduce panic and increase trust. The traditional ways of seeking calm will not apply.

There is a need to share the brutal facts with all and do so with a realistic yet confident view that we will succeed. Leadership during times of crisis require highly emotionally intelligent leaders who are self aware of the impact their words and actions have on others.

Telling people to stay calm (etc) is counter-productive and increases panic and leads to a lack of trust. While it might work when there is an isolated issue impacting a small portion of the population, it does not work when people see the impact of a crisis with their own eyes.

I implore all leaders to lead courageously and honestly.

Have empathy for those you lead and understand the panic they feel is real. Listen to the experts and be open to accepting their advice. And be self-aware of the impact everything you do and say has on those you lead.

These comments are not aimed at any one leader. We all need to accept we are leaders in our families, communities, businesses etc regardless of our formal jobs. We all have a role to play in leading our way through this crisis with acceptance of the facts and sureness of success.

As a side note, I have lived and breathed “leadership” my whole life. As a leader myself for 30 years and completing a PhD in the field, this crisis is the kind of situation every leader talks about but rarely experiences. So leaders, it is time to step up. Right now.

Intellect is one thing. But far more important right now is having the emotional intelligence to truly understand what you need to say and when. You are bound to get it wrong at times so just ‘fess up’ when you do and move on.

Courageous transparency is key right now to build trust.

In summary: 

1. Trust comes if you are truly, bravely transparent, and if you actually trust those you lead

2. People can smell an inauthentic leader a mile off

3. Every word and action matters

4. Time for all to step up and lead

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