Friday, October 21, 2016

what's the secret?

Whether it is in relationships, families, or organizations, secrets tend to keep people from functioning well...and it is often  the leader (formally or not) who asks the hard question, "What's the secret here and why are we not talking about it?"  Secrets exist for all kinds of reasons, including not knowing how to talk about them, being ashamed or afraid to talk about them, or not even knowing what the secret is and being unable to name it.  Because secrets (intentional or not) bring about tension and dysfunction, being able to tease out the secret and create a safe space in  which people can talk about the issue at hand are roles leaders must play.  How can they do that?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • be brave enough to ask the question...while the answer may be surprising and/or hurtful, getting the issue on the table is the first step in the process
  • create trust among the one will share secrets with people they do not trust (that's why they are called secrets).  Spending time with the team in open dialogue is the critical first step in this process
  • don't be afraid of the truth...truth can hurt, and leaders know that the hurt can then lead to healing.  Most secrets, once they are brought out into the open, will not destroy an organization; the ones kept hidden might.
  • create a culture of permission and forgiveness...if people are punished for sharing secrets, they will start keeping even more secrets to themselves.  A culture that rewards the unmasking of secrets can become very powerful
  • understand that people are complex subjects...leaders should never assume they know their people well enough that secrets would not be kept hidden.  As a wise sage once told me, "people disappoint...and that's because they are people."
  • practice the art of compassion...sharing the secret in the room is difficult and includes a certain amount of vulnerability.  Showing compassion to those who reveal secrets and to those whom the secret affects will go a long way in solving the issue at hand
Secrets are all around us, whether we believe they are or not.  Here's the good news...not every secret has to remain secret IF the culture is such that secrets can be shared as needed.  And here's even the better news...once secrets are talked about they are no longer secrets, and relationships, families and organizations can begin to function well once again.

1 comment:

Brad K said...

Many people are afraid to ask questions but that is the only way to recognize the truth and become an outstanding leader.