Being Direct

by Bronwyn

There is a common misconception that occurs to people in management and executive positions. They believe that being a manager requires giving directives, or telling people what to do. This telling requires being direct and firm so employees realise that you are in charge and must do what you say. There may even be times where being direct requires a little aggression or anger. The misconception is that if you don’t do this then employees won’t do what you want and they won’t respect you. However if you recall the last time someone used this approach with you, it probably resulted in a defensive response and there was absolutely no respect exchanged.

Being direct, as a notion, has been misconstrued by power hungry individuals and unfortunately overtime it has come to be an accepted form of management. This could not be further from the truth. The reason why this is so is because being direct is about being clear what you need as a person. It is about being clear about how you feel and being disciplined in what you require. Direction is about knowing yourself and what you need to do next. When you are clear about this you can then explain what you need to other people around you. This then is not ‘telling’ people what to do but rather expressing what you need and asking people how can this be achieved. You are gaining their input. You are respecting their point of view on how to achieve an end result. This approach requires expressing first what you need, then asking others what they need to make it happen. Telling is bypassing the first step and just telling people to make things happen without any shared goals. You become the one responsible for everything and so you need to follow up on everything. Telling is all about controlling. The opposite of this, being direct with yourself first, is about sharing responsibilities.

Being direct requires being clear about what information you need to ensure you can fully trust your employees. It is not about forcing people to do what you want so you can trust them. We can all remember moments of being parented and being told, it feels disempowering and degrading. If you only tell people then it is not possible to grow an organisation. The only growth comes from what you tell people to do, you are educating people that you are the only decision maker, you are the only one who knows the goals. So stop telling and become more disciplined by being clearer with yourself about what you need to do.  Being direct with yourself does not mean that you never make a decision. Do not confuse telling with making decisions. Decide what direction you need to take and what information you need and then assertively express this.