It’s all in the delivery

by 15 Sep 2016
I recently read a blog post that described the "T"s of leadership as being truth, trust, and tact. Much has been written about the importance of the first two, but it was the third one that really struck me. We don't often associate tact with being a good leader. When we think of tact, we think of many different situations. We may think of a politician dancing around an issue or a doctor trying to tell a patient she has cancer, but is there really a place for tact in leadership?

On the other extreme of tact is directness. Sometimes, it can be considered admirable for a good leader to be straightforward. When you don't beat around the bush, your people will know exactly what you think and what is expected of them. There is value in "giving it to them straight," and not leaving any room for interpretation. All of that being said, there are times it's best to exercise a little discernment in the way you approach issues with our team members.

The purpose of using tact in dealing with your people is to get them to make positive changes without making them feel ashamed, angry, or resentful. It could be something as simple as an employee violating a dress code policy and you take them aside in private to explain to them their mistake. Or, it could be that an employee's performance has been slipping and you need to address it. Rather than doing it from a position of blame and disapproval, you can do it by asking them how you can help them improve.

That's tact. It's not always the best characteristic to have as a leader but, at certain times, it is a characteristic that can make all the difference. What are some situations in which you've needed to use tact to handle issues in your organization?


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