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How To Create A Culture Of Candor Through Leadership

Written by: Sarah Gibbons, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


“What’s the secret to really knowing how my team feels?”

I spend a lot of time with corporate executives from creative agencies and foundations, and one of the biggest desires I’m hearing from them is a culture of candor.

Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix for leading the way four to five years ago to create cultures where it became expected to speak your truth in service to tearing down ideas and leaving no rock unturned.

I’m not saying that they’re nailing it, but they did kick off a trend. However, I would still hear stories about how these exchanges would go, and quite honestly, it frightened me.

There was an undercurrent of ‘its business leave your feelings out of it which results in a lack of harmony and collaboration and fosters more of a ‘get it done attitude.

Today, the desire for a culture of candor is even more present, but what got us there four years ago, isn’t what will get us to that brutally open, honest, and transparent culture now.

I was coaching two groups of creative executives and was blown away by how each of them was showing up. Both groups have big missions, big revenues to hit, and lots of employees to manage and each meeting was two hours (not leaving a lot of time to jam through the top priorities).

What stood out to me was how these executives were describing work within their teams:

  1. People were giving feedback in a way that was direct and respectful.

  2. People were actively listening to one another, instead of talking over each other.

  3. People were genuinely curious about other’s people’s ideas and how they arrived at certain decisions.

These execs had dropped their armor and lead from open hearts.

People don’t use the word ‘love’ much with leadership, but it’s the secret sauce to growing your culture and ultimately your bottom line. I’m literally watching my clients experience transformation and they’re creating a ripple in their organizations.

Remember, how the leader is being, is how the team is being.

I’ve been working with these groups for the past year and they’re incredible examples of exec teams prioritizing doing the work on their leadership and who they are in the world.

As a result, they’re pacing ahead on their revenue, and, equally important, they’re on their way to creating cultures that foster transparency and humanity at the same time.

(It’s the humanity that was getting left out pre-Covid btw).

I can’t say it enough, investing in your teams is one of the greatest gifts you can give your people. If you’re looking for an immediate baby step to help you drop your armor, and instead lead from an open heart so you can experience more candor in any of your relationships, check out Brene Brown’s documentary series on HBO Max, ‘Atlas of the Heart.’

Her ability to break down emotions and put words to them (remember it’s our emotions that we hide behind when we experience fear) is so valuable.

My husband, John, and I watched it together, and it sparked a ton of really important conversations that I experienced bringing us closer.

I’ll leave you with something to consider for the week ahead:

If you were to 10x your ability to be more transparent and honest in any area of your life, what’s the biggest impact you can imagine creating?

That is what I want for you!

For more leadership insights and coaching tips, get on Sarah’s exclusive list HERE.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Sarah Gibbons, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sarah Gibbons is a renowned executive Success Coach based in LA who’s worked with incredible leaders like the LA Clippers, the Weitz Foundation, the teams at award-winning Creative Agency Hey Wonderful, The Talent LA, Executives at Google, Chiat, and more and she’s become known as the “LA Creative Whisperer” for her tough, but the real, effective and graceful approach to leadership coaching. In addition to running The Mother Board, she runs The Board, The Father Board and coaches corporations, organizations, and individual leaders. She’s also a wife, mother of three young boys, a philanthropist, published author, and inspirational speaker.



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