Bad News As a Test of Leadership

How does bad news flow where you are? I think the handling of the bad news is an interesting test of leadership and organizational health. expect delays

  1. Real leaders get the bad news first. If the boss isn’t the first one a person tells about problems and bad news, then there’s something wrong with that boss. Why is there a delay? What are they afraid of? People instinctively go to a real leader with bad news because they want the leader to know quickly and they expect the leader to come up with the right response.
  2. Real leaders deliver bad news quickly and well. In many ways that’s a test of leadership. Hiding bad news is rarely a good idea.
  3. Real leaders take responsibility for bad news. They jump in and collaborate on solutions. Bucks don’t get passed.

I’ve seen this phenomenon for years, in small business and entrepreneurship. I think I see it in larger politics, too.

What do you think?


  • Stephanie King says:

    I’ve been bullied, yes bullied, by small LOCAL business owners and employees all over the city of Richmond. Tim, compared to my experience, you are already half way up the ladder of issues that small business owners need to address within themselves here. I have the anecdotes if you are interested.

  • Sandy Cutler says:

    Right on target Tim. Good leaders get the facts, share up to date and accurate information, and take responsibility. You might find my article, “The Leadership Pyramid” interesting. You can find it on my website, under the tab Resources and Articles.

  • Doug Johnson says:

    I agree with Tim. The sooner the group’s leader gets the facts, the sooner action can be taken to create a positive plan of action. Some strong leaders that I have known actually preferred to remove the subjective bias and categorize news as neither good nor bad, just reality. I’ve never been able to be quite that cool and objective, but a certain amount of emotional detachment might allow for better decision making in crucial situations.

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