There is a ‘leadership’ mindset out there which always leaves me flummoxed. I cannot understand why anybody, much less a leader of an organization hoping to be successful, would adhere to it. And yet, it is a mindset nearly as ubiquitous as any other: the unwillingness of leaders to articulate and explain what they do, the decisions they make, and why they they made them. This bad habit leaves everyone in the dark, fearful and speculating about the whys and what might happen next — rather than practically and effectively preparing for what will happen next. It’s happening everywhere, and it’s driving organizations insane. Leaders will make big changes without telling their employees why. Rather than address these stressful issues, leaders just remain silent.
This is not real leadership. This is cowardly, a fear of transparency. Real leadership is about lifting people up to a higher possibility; it’s not about creating a culture of confusion that leaves your team wondering and speculating about what they think you mean, without the clarity and understanding of what you actually mean. This behavior is the antithesis of leadership. If you’re going to build an organization of highly motivated, deeply engaged, collaborative, communicative, willing to go above and beyond team — you can’t keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit.
Take, for instance, when someone is let go: it creates fear, doubt, and worry in those left behind. Put simply, their safety is at risk. They are left in survival mode, which effectively means not-working-well mode. It fosters rumors, distraction, and hostility that could easily be eliminated by a simple act of communication, clarification, and articulation of intention! Trust your team; be willing to be vulnerable, and tell them the truth. Build the trust to have the conversations that need to be had. Budget problem? Talk about it! You are probably missing key financial opportunities by failing to engage key employees from the bottom up. They need to know what they can rely on, understanding boundaries and expectations. If they can’t handle transparency, they might not be right for your team — but if you’re going to keep them in the dark, you certainly can’t expect them to perform at their best, be exceptional team members, or be willing to go the extra mile for you.