Truth and Leadership: What would you REALLY like to tell your boss?

Walking down the street in Key West with my wife, I was caught by an unusual sign in a shop window.  It said, “Tell your boss exactly how you feel … and … the truth shall set you free.” 

Yes, I suppose so, in more ways than one.

In many organizations, if you’re an employee, it’s dangerous to tell your boss exactly how you feel.  Because we have a double standard in the workplace that says its okay for the boss to tell the employee what they are doing wrong, but it’s not okay for the employee to tell the boss what they’re doing wrong.

That’s just plain stupid because a boss cannot become a better leader without the feedback of his/her employees.

So I began a research project, asking hundreds and thousands of my audience members what they would like to tell their bosses about being a better leader.  Here are a few of their top tips.

If you’re a leader, listen up.  As author Brian Tracy writes, you need to “become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”

And if you don’t have a leadership title, listen up … because you are a leader of some sort.  It may be the way you participate in your team meetings at work, the way you run your family, or the way you involve or don’t involve yourself in church or any other organization.  In every setting you exert some kind of influence, and that’s what leadership is all about.  Influence.

That being the case, this is what people want to tell you about your leadership.


► 1. Pay closer attention to the example you are setting.   

Don’t kid yourself. Your coworkers watch everything you do and everything you say.

So ask yourself, “Is your example bringing out the best in people or inadvertently reinforcing the worst?”  It’s one or the other.  You are never a neutral force.

Or as syndicated columnist Josh Hinds asks, “Would you rather be the one known for being the one who encouraged others, or the one who inadvertently discouraged those around you?”

Scott Fisher, a business manager at Merck, learned how to be a better leader, at work and at home.  At my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program, he learned how to be a person that encouraged rather than discouraged people.  Scott says, “I’m a better husband, father, friend, manager, and coach as a result of your Journey program. You gave me new skills that made all the difference in the world.”

And right now, you can register for one of my last two Journeys for 2018 at the Super Early-Early-Bird Tuition.

Join me in Chicago on October 25-16, 2018 by clicking on

Or join me in Pierre, South Dakota on November 29-30, 2018 by clicking on


► 2. Walk your talk.   

You cannot say one thing and do another and expect your leadership to work.

You can’t preach the importance of returning customer phone calls but not do it yourself. You can’t emphasize punctuality at meetings but show up late. And you can’t talk about the importance of a good attitude but never have one.

Of course, walking your talk sounds like nothing more than being honest. But it also has a very practical, motivational side to it. As one person said so very well, your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.


► 3. Show the people around you that you actually CARE about them.

You know the old saying, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And it’s still true and always will be true.

You’ve got to show a genuine interest in your employees. Make it a point to ask your employees how their family is doing. And when you learn that a family member is ill, has had an accident, just entered college, got married, had a child, or whatever, follow up.

The best leaders seem to know that it’s not only “nice” to treat their employees with caring, it’s also good business. As I told my Boeing audience last week, “Your people will go to the ends of the earth for you when they know that you care about them as individuals.”

Or as my friend and fellow author Philip Van Hooser says, “How can we reasonably expect our employees, our followers, to respond to our leadership if we have not made every effort to let them know that we are there for them?”

So let me ask you, do your people know … do they REALLY know you care about them? If you’re not sure, you’ve got some work to do … starting right now.


► 4. Get the roadblocks out of my way.   

Most people want to do a good job, but there may be some roadblocks that make it very difficult … if not impossible … for them to do a good job.

So if you’re a leader of any sort, it’s your responsibility to get the roadblocks out of their way, as much as possible. Get rid of the obstacles that get in the way of your people’s success and achievement.

That’s what John Manning, VP of the WOW Department at Commerce Bank, does. As he says, “At Commerce Bank we have a ‘Kill a Stupid Rule’ Program. If you identify a rule that prevents you from wowing customers, we’ll pay you fifty bucks.”

It’s a great program. The employees are empowered to talk about the stupid rules, out in the open, not out in the hallways, behind the boss’ back.  And the bosses get rid of those stupid rules, allowing their people to give the best possible service and keep the WOW factor alive.

So ask yourself what roadblocks are you removing … roadblocks that are getting in the way of other people’s success?  It’s one of the key things my research revealed, one of the things that people wanted to tell their bosses.

Being a better leader is not all that difficult, especially if you listen to the folks around you.  And these four tips are four of the things that employees would really like to tell their bosses.  The question is … what are you going to do about it?

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 940 –  Truth and Leadership: What would you REALLY like to tell your boss?