Adonis Diaries

Dynamic candor (Humility?): And 10 of them that are essential?

Posted on: November 7, 2018

Dynamic candor: And 10 of them that are essential?

By Dan Rockwell?

Inept leaders block uncomfortable topics from the discussion. It’s pathetic. Weak, fearful leaders need agreement to confirm their leadership.

I recently spent time with five members of an executive team who displayed the power of candor. They brought themselves and their perspective to the discussion.

In some organizations it would have been dangerous. I found it invigorating.

Weak executives say what their CEO expects them to say.


Candor used well ignites useful stress and productive conflict.

Candor enables excellence by propelling tough issues into leadership conversations. Apart from candor, organizations enjoy imagined unity based on conspiracies of silence. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”

Lack of candor is the path to mediocrity and eventual crisis.

Candor, however, isn’t an answer on its own.


The context of candor is tough issues, short-comings, failures, and the pursuit of excellence. Candor on its own creates negative, oppressive, dark environments.

10 Behaviors effective candor requires:

  1. Willingness to adapt or change. If you can’t say, “I was wrong,” candor becomes adversity.
  2. Gossip free secrecy. Candor ends when you publicly share private disagreements.
  3. Respect. Withholding candor is manipulative disrespect. It suggests that others believe you can’t handle or don’t want the truth.
  4. Courtesy. If anger fuels your candor, keep quiet until anger abates.
  5. Passion with emotional steadiness.
  6. Trust that others won’t use your words against you. Lack of candor expresses lack of trust. Candor creates vulnerability. Candor says, “I trust you enough to speak the hard truth.”
  7. Apologies.
  8. Taking responsibility.
  9. Staying focused on issues, outcomes, processes, and procedures.
  10. Affirmation.

Candor apart from affirmation builds negative relationships.

Bonus: Everyone rows together once decisions are made.

How have you seen candor go wrong?

What makes candor work?

8 strenghts of Humility

I ask G.J. Hart, when he was CEO of Texas Roadhouse, if he could spot emerging leaders. He didn’t rule out talent, education, or leadership presence, but he replied, “I can usually tell if they have the humility to make it.

Hart’s statement so deeply impacted me that I wrote about humility in, “The Character Based Leader.”

Humble leaders are stronger than arrogant leaders.

Humble strength vs. arrogant weakness:

  1. Humility learns; arrogance knows.
  2. Humble leaders submit to noble values; they won’t bend. Arrogant leaders bend rules to their advantage.
  3. Humility listens; arrogance talks.
  4. Humble leaders serve others; arrogant leaders serve themselves.
  5. Humble leaders are free to build up others. Arrogant leaders build up themselves.
  6. Humility opens hearts; arrogance builds walls.
  7. Humility joins; arrogance stands aloof.
  8. Humble leaders connect; arrogant leaders disconnect.

Humility enables leaders to ask, “How can I help?”

Thanks to Kristi Neises on The Leadership Coffee Shop for reminding me of this C.S. Lewis quote:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”


Leadership skills are important for leadership success but humility is necessary. I’ll take a less skilled humble leader over a more skilled arrogant leader every time.

Arrogant leaders might succeed but they’ll never be successful. Can you think of any leadership skill that isn’t more beautiful with humility?

The Path:

Leadership is first about character then about skills. Spend more time developing the practice of humility and less time working on leadership skills.

You can’t talk your way into humility; it’s always practiced.

See Facebook contributions: The Leadership Freak Coffee Shop.

What strengths do you see in humility?

How does arrogance hinder or destroy leadership?

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November 2018

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