Is Truth-Telling Unprofessional?
Far from it.
In my experience, two essential leadership habits: truth-telling and clarity-seeking can remedy most organizational challenges.
There is nothing more powerful. Both used in conjunction lead to rising levels of trust and good spirits. Reflecting less on what to say and on what to do can free resources for more meaningful activities.
If leaders themselves practice these two habits, their teams will follow suit. However, truth-telling and clarity-seeking can only work in a safe zone. The more profound challenge lies in the skill of the leader to manage his or her thoughts and emotions. It takes a strong leader to stay non-triggered and grounded while interacting with others who are pursuing the truth and seeking clarity — a leader who does not shoot the messenger.
Organizations are breeding grounds for those who want to develop such humane skills and become stronger leaders. They are, however, also breeding grounds for the few who thrive on hidden agendas, confusion, politics, and role-playing. Those who make others believe that telling the truth and seeking clarity are unprofessional. Please don't believe them. There is nothing more professional.