Candor is the Key to Business Success


Today I want to talk about an article that was sent to me by a good friend awhile back which dissected the word ‘candor’ as it relates to business success.  I thought it was brilliant.  So as I try to post original thoughts in this blog every week, sometimes I have to bow to others and thank them for the idea, words or inspiration.  This week is one of those times.


Tony Gareri is the CEO of Roma Moulding in the Toronto area and submitted a well-crafted article about candor to the Globe and Mail Leadership Lab in March of 2015.  He credits Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric and his book titled Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book.



So this is a team effort. Ha… me on a team with Jack Welch!


Look up the word ‘candor’ and you will find the definition: “The quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.”  Synonyms: frankness, openness, honesty, candidness, truthfulness, sincerity, forthrightness, directness, plain-spokenness, bluntness, straightforwardness, outspokenness.


Candor is, in essence, telling it like it is.


We have all run into situations where a glaring lack of candor in a business environment has clouded or hidden reality that clearly called for an honest, direct and open approach to a very sticky situation. The lack of candor can cost relationships and reputations.


Honesty trumps all.


Ask yourself, as Tony Gareri suggests, if candor is a driving element on your day-to-day life.


  • “How often are you really told how you did?
  • How often do you tell others how they really did on a project?
  • How often do you refrain from speaking up in a meeting not to hurt the feelings of the other person?
  • How often do you sugar coat bad news?
  • How often do you hold back comments and or criticisms?”


The lack of candor can damage relationships, partnerships, projects and business in general.


On the flip side, do you really want to work in an environment that encourages such open dialogue, which risks hurt feelings, embarrassment and all the dirty laundry that real truth brings with it?

Well, I think I do so long as this environment comes with compassion, fairness and good timing.   Candor is great but it can be dangerous.


How do you encourage candor in the workspace?  This is a cultural issue and like most things cultural, it has to start at the top.   Honest and thoughtful feedback and dialogue that gets to the heart of the matter must start at the top. If the CEO treats his or her people this way it will start to filter down.


But we can take this advice and apply it to our teams at all levels.  Start slowly, working with your direct reports.  Have them read this blog post or that of Tony Gareri or even the section in Jack Welch’s book that talks about it.  Plan the new dialogue and execute slowly and compassionately. The early results should all be creating a positive outcome.


Candor. Is this part of your leadership style that you are missing?


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1 thought on “Candor is the Key to Business Success”

  1. Laura Artibello

    Candor David, are a factor in personal & business discussion . I generally use the phrase “to be quite frank”; to say “to be perfectly honest” for me, well it’s saying, I’ll be honest this time…….never sat right with me. Tone & purpose are the backbone to candor. It can be a disservice if we are not candid with people we feel comfortable with on important matters that should be open to more dialogue . Business is business, when people remember that they will appreciate the sincere openness. I have always appreciated & admired your candor with me. Fan, Laura

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