Are you a bold leader? Have you been told that you have a bit of an edge? If so, you have likely found that it serves you very well. Let me be clear that when I refer to an edge I’m not talking about rough edges or confusing candor with rude or arrogant behavior. What I am referring to is having a direct, no B.S. approach that allows you to get right to the heart of an issue in the shortest time-frame possible. So my question is this…how edgy are you?

I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday debating the merits of new GM CEO, Daniel Akerson’s leadership style. Mr. Akerson is well known for his candid, demanding, and often blunt approach to business. The article discussed the pros and cons associated with his style of leadership, which I personally find quite refreshing. Spare me the politicians masquerading as CEOs, and give me a leader who will cut to the chase and get things done.

On several occasions, I’ve received that “I can’t believe you just said that” look from clients. In fact, one recent interaction, in particular, does a good job of conveying the value of having an edge…I had a client look directly at me and say: “If I spoke to my clients like that they would fire me right on the spot…How do you get away with that?” My question back to him was: “Why don’t you fire me?” His response: “because you tell me what I need to hear as opposed to what you think I want to hear, and I value that.” My reply: “That’s how I get away with it.”

I have found that people largely fall into two groups: those known for their candor, and those known for a lack thereof. I have also found that in most cases people value candor, and if they don’t, I’ve found that they tend to live in an ego-centric, altered state of denial that will result in many unnecessary hardships. I coined the following phrase to address these delusional types: “Those who seek shelter in the wisdom of sound counsel must also be willing to take refuge there…Those unwilling to do the latter, really don’t value the former.”

I’ve never been accused of being politically correct, or a shrinking violet. In fact, my edge is a large part of my competitive value proposition. I don’t sugar coat, gloss-over, or spin…rather I tell you what you need to hear, which is always the truth, regardless of whether or not it is easy to swallow. My clients tell me that having someone to hold them accountable, challenge their business logic, force them out of comfort zones, and tell them the truth is a rarity in the marketplace (remember that scarcity = value).

As a validation for what I’ve communicated above, among the most common requests received by coaching referral services, are inquiries looking for “strong” coaches. The simple truth of the matter is that I’ve rarely encountered a successful professional advisor, entrepreneur, executive, or any leader for that matter who doesn’t have a bit of an edge. Think about it this way, do you want to be a professional mind reader, or do you simply prefer that people engage in the sincere, honest dialog?

Now let’s take this discussion up a notch – how sharp is your edge? We’ve all come across those people in our lives who don’t just possess an edge, but they have taken their edge to a completely different level having honed it to a razor’s edge…These people not only possess the qualities espoused above, but they have also learned how to appropriately leverage their edge by using it for the right purpose at the right time. Whether they use their edge as a subtle carving tool used for shaping and refining, a surgical blade used to implement change, as a lightning rod for shock-and-awe purposes, or a defensive instrument of protection, they know when to use it, and when to keep it in check. So, I ask again…Do you have an edge, and if so, how sharp is your edge?

What do you think of the value of candor in the workplace?