Straight-Shooting in Life and Business

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How many times have you been turned off by someone who talks in circles? 


There’s a reason “honesty is the best policy” is such a common saying. A straightforward person always gets to the heart of the matter, and quickly. And let’s face it, you can only have a meaningful (or at the very least, enjoyable) conversation if there’s an equal and genuine exchange of thoughts. 


Straight shooters are trustworthy because, while direct, they tell the truth and keep their promises. But someone who faffs around a topic or issue just gets written off by others as a timewaster.


Some people would rather not speak up because they’re afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. But as someone who used to beat around the bush, I can say that if you’re not a straight shooter, you won’t get anywhere in life or business. 


Compared to business owners who don’t cut to the chase, straight shooters are more efficient and reliable because they clearly communicate their goals and plans of action. 


This type of leader has integrity and is transparent with their team and customers. They inspire the people around them, which allows the business to grow in a great environment. 


You don’t even need to make drastic changes to your personality or leadership style to be a straight shooter. Applying simple but impactful changes in the way you think and act is enough.

What is a straight shooter?

A straight shooter walks the talk, making sure their words are backed up by their actions. Some of the most successful personalities and business leaders are straight shooters.


Larry King was well-known for his direct interview style. He asked short questions that resulted in insightful and sometimes unexpected answers. He was never rude to any of his interviewees, but his directness set him apart from his colleagues.


When Lawrence A. Bossidy became the CEO of AlliedSignal (now known as Honeywell International Inc.) in 1991, he restructured a stagnating aerospace supplier company into a successful organisation. 


In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Bossidy mentioned that in the first 60 days of his appointment, he talked to almost 5,000 employees about the company’s problems and how they should solve it. 


“We made a major commitment to use total quality as the vehicle to drive change. Everybody in the world has [total quality] or something like it. I want AlliedSignal to be the people who do it, not the people who talk about it,” said Bossidy.


Kevin Rehnberg of Argo Group was blunt and honest when he faced the firing line for company losses just a week after his appointment as CEO. He mentioned that while the Q4 results were “clearly unacceptable,” Argo is now pursuing a culture of “results and accountability.”


“I like to lead by example, and like to be clear in my expectations and reviews,” Rehnberg shared. 


A straight shooter is strong-minded, confident, and authoritative. While they’re not concerned about being popular, they’re always professional and personable. They take care of their relationships with their team, customers, and supportive colleagues.

Why straight-shooting is important in life and business

Since a straight-shooting leader prioritises transparency and accountability, it allows them to build and maintain a credible reputation. 


Building a credible reputation is especially important for small business owners because they have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. When people (especially potential customers) take you seriously, it’s easier to grow your business.


A straight-shooting business owner also inspires others to act in the same way. They encourage the team to be more involved and to share their own solutions and innovations in achieving business goals. 


In real estate company SquareFoot, CEO and co-founder Jonathan Wasserstrum sits in the middle of the office to work alongside his team and build authentic relationships with them.


Straight-shooting also unites you and your team against whatever storms your business may face. During the peak of COVID-19 in 2020, Microsoft set up a command centre, where they send real-time updates to the entire company while the crisis unfolds.



It may be difficult to say what people need (but don’t want) to hear. But a straight-shooter saves costs and resources in the long run by cutting straight to the issues at hand.

5 ways to be a straight shooter in life and business

It can be intimidating to adopt a strong straight-shooting leadership style. But applying slight changes can have a big impact if you know what to look for. So, here are five simple yet effective tips on how to be a straight-shooting business owner.

1. Communicate your vision and values

As a business coach, 90% of the business owners I’ve worked with have a specific reason for going into their ventures but they rarely have a clear vision. It’s important to know your vision because it gives you an idea what business success means for you and how to achieve it.


You can manage everyone’s expectations more efficiently when everything is laid out in the beginning. When you’ve identified clear business goals, your team can measure their own performance in the scale of company expectations. 


Clear communication ensures that everyone on the team is actively working towards achieving business goals. When you communicate your company values and lead by example, it fosters trust in your team and encourages their growth.

2. Establish a clear plan for achieving your goals

After you identify your business vision and communicate it with your team, you need to ensure you have an actionable plan to achieve those goals. A business without a plan will fail because there’s no direction or focus.


A straight-shooter creates a step-by-step business plan that guides them and their team. Having an organised and detailed business plan benefits the whole team because it allows you to plan and allocate resources more effectively and include contingencies when unexpected problems come along. 


It will also help you assess and review the development of your business and if anything needs to be improved.


3. Use active listening with your team (and customers)

Communication is a two-way street and a straight-shooting leader effectively uses active listening as a tool to achieve business goals while establishing great connections.


A straight-shooter prioritises the growth of their business and sees the big picture. They understand that it’s important to listen to their people, from the team to the customers, to build authentic relationships full of loyalty and trust. 


When you actively listen and exchange ideas with your people, you motivate them to work for the success of your business. 


Asking for feedback also shows customers that you care about their needs and that you’re constantly innovating to provide the best for them.

4. Be transparent and honest

A straight-shooting leader always makes the right business decisions even if it costs them in the short-term. When you value integrity and honour, you won’t be easily shaken by tough choices or difficult problems.   


To minimise loss (of time, money, and effort), a straight shooter will have contingency plans in place because they’re prepared for different eventualities. This also makes it easier to communicate issues with the team because you will already have a list of possible solutions to discuss with them too. 


Transparency goes hand in hand with preparedness. This will reassure your team (even your customers) of any fears or concerns they may have and boost their confidence in you.


Some tough decisions will mean short-term costs. But in the long-term, being transparent and honest builds a credible brand reputation.

5. Maintain a positive outlook

Your belief systems and mindset greatly affect the way you deal with problems. Having a positive outlook and following a process to change negative belief systems will keep you motivated.


There’s a thin line between being honest (which we know is a cornerstone to being a straight shooter) and being negative. A straight-shooting leader ensures that they never cross the line and become relentlessly negative.


A positive mindset helps business owners become more effective problem-solvers because they’re focused on resolving the issue rather than the fact that there is an issue. It also builds your resilience and improves decision-making because you have a cool and rational frame of mind as opposed to a negative or anxious one.


Becoming an effective straight-shooting business owner takes time, but these steps allow you to incorporate small changes with big impact. When you get right to the point in all aspects of your life rather than going around in circles, it’s easier to achieve success.


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