Stop protecting the children

Originally published at jimcanterucci.com

No news is scary. I can’t perform if I’m scared.

We’re not open enough

This post is about honesty and the horrible buzzword transparency.

There are some things that must be kept close to the vest. Examples include legal requirements, stock market impact, acquisition plans, and something that will publicly embarrass someone.

Realize that these examples are exceptions. While it’s true that loose lips sink ships in some situations, this isn’t WWII. Some reasons we fall into this trap below.

Does everyone on your team know your plans?

Caution

Unfortunately we err on the side of caution and treat many things with the same secrecy as if it is required by law. It’s safer to just not say anything. After all you can’t predict how people will react. Who knows what chaos we’ll need to deal with. Not sharing seems easier.

We’ve Arrived

History repeats itself. Why does the senior class haze the freshman class? Well, because I was hazed as a freshman and need to maintain the tradition, right or wrong. We were kept in the dark by our bosses. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Face it, we learn leadership from the leaders we’ve directly experienced, right and wrong.

We care

As great leaders we care about people. We have a parental, protective nature about our team. That’s natural. We worry about sharing challenging news and how that will affect people.

When I was six years old I was picked up at school and brought to an aunt and uncle’s house. Not something that had ever happened before. I was there about eight hours. While the adults were very nice to me I knew something was going on. It was clear to me that someone close had died.

No one would talk to me or answer my questions. For those eight hours I was certain that my father was dead and they didn’t want to tell me. I remember being mad that they didn’t think I was capable of handling such important information. I resented those adults for years after that day.

It turned out that there was a death in the family but it wasn’t my dad. It was an uncle. The news was bad but it wasn’t as bad as the news I created in the vacuum of communication.

  • Why did the adults allow me to think the worst?
  • Why didn’t they treat me as an equal?
  • Why were they afraid to tell me the truth?
  • Why did they think I didn’t know something was going on?

This real-life example is extreme but is exactly what happens so often when leaders hold back and don’t share the whole truth. It’s the opposite of caring.

Share the mountain

If you tell me where we’re going I can help us get there.

I work with individual executives every day who attend a meeting with higher ups and come back disheartened by the obstacle thrown up in front of them. It seems like a mountain. Even for ultra high performers, shouldering this burden alone is difficult. Because we’re cautious, it’s the way it’s always been done, and we care, our first reaction is to try to solve the problem on our own.

Do you realize what you’re doing to your team by not sharing these challenges? It’s the opposite of leadership.

Share the mountain and utilize all the resources available, keep everyone in the game, and show trust in your team. That’s leadership!

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