Being Caught Without Your Clothes...


This past month Elizabeth and I have been focusing on the leadership modules of our Brilliant Leader Program and as often happens, we get into discussions about the impact a leader’s communication style has on shaping a company’s culture. 

But as we got further into talking about what we call the “4-E’s System” of building powerful teams and cultures we realized that the success of enhancing, enabling, engaging, and empowering people all hinges on willingness of a leader to trust his or her people and more importantly the people’s willingness to trust in their leader. 

In an article written back in 2015 by Bill Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of 1000Trees,LLC,  he said,

“What I have often seen is an inverse relationship between title and truth telling; the higher you rise in the food chain, the less likely you are to hear the unvarnished truth.” 

He likened this statement to the story about the emperor with new clothes where everyone is afraid to tell the emperor that he’s naked.

When we talk to those leaders who attend our Brilliant Leader workshops or who participate in our five-week online Brilliant Leader Program we often find that while they want to hear the truth and to give that trust they often just don’t know how. And while they may be fearless in their desire to rise to the top of their food chain they lack the know-how to build meaningful and truthful connections.

If employees fear that their boss’ reaction to bad news will adversely affect them, then that leader is fostering a culture of mistrust and dread. The truth will be something that’s weighed, measured, and doled out only as last resort.

It is critical for a leader to understand the importance of trust. As we meet with these leaders we always circle back to the guiding leadership principle from our Color Code Communication teachings and that is that leaders must be willing to take 100% responsibility for maintaining relationships and in order to do that they must be built on a foundation of trust. 

Leaders must be willing to lay down their egos and create an equal playing field for all. They must be willing to make adjustments to how they respond to their employees – in good times and in bad and how they are willing to hear the truth even when it hurts them. 

Leaders who understand this simple but often tough principle of leadership and who are willing to put their fears on the shelf and their beliefs into action never have to worry about being caught without clothes.



Carol Westberry is the Founder & Consulting Partner of PSSworks! and she is the Founder and Chief HR Passion Officer of™, your online, on-demand resource for HR templates, forms, eBooks and templates.