I saw it plain as day. The new head of sales for a start-up had just come back from a partner meeting with his CEO. The partner was supposed to provide a substantial lead base and be the lynchpin of the start-ups new, revolutionary product. The head of sales did not like what he saw.
The next week the head of sales went into the CEO’s office and told him he didn’t believe the partnership was going to work out and he felt they should look to different areas and consider a different go to market strategy. The CEO blasted his head of sales, suggesting he was coming up with excuses for NOT being able to sell the new product and the partner relationship was just fine.
The head of sales ended up leaving shortly there after.
Six months later, the start-up pivoted, shutting down the partnership and scuttling the product. It didn’t work.
Why didn’t the CEO listen to his head of sales? Why did he not trust the opinions of the person he hired as his sales expert? Sometimes, hard truths are hard to hear.
Hard truths is information that is hard to hear. It’s the information that suggests the leaders is going in the wrong direction, that someone they trust is hurting them, that the product they want to work, is in trouble. Hard truths are inconvenient. It’s the things we DON’T want to hear.
The best leaders, the best sales leaders are open to the hard truths. They recognize the value in having an organization where the hard truths can be safely shared. The embrace and encourage open and honest discord. Accepting hard truths can save an organization a lot of time and money.
Some leaders aren’t ready for hard truths. They are afraid of being found out. They believe it will undermine their power. They think it make them look weak. They attack those who share the hard-truths, as this CEO did. Some leaders don’t want to hear the truth.
Success is built on hard truths. Just because you don’t want to hear it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Start celebrating those who tell you how it is, not what you want to hear.
Hard truths can be your best friends, if you let them?