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Want to be More Inspiring? Get Rid of “Secrets”!

by Mar 22, 20198 comments

Executives are notorious information hoarders. And keeping secrets creates suspicion and breeds distrust. In my work with leaders, I am constantly surprised by how many leaders believe the false notion that certain information is too sensitive to share with employees.

As I have argued in my latest book, The Bellwether Effect, a vital way to create an inspiring culture is the adoption of open-book management. 

Sharing the inner metrics of an organization with all employees and inviting their feedback and input, helps them to connect the dots between their work efforts and the organization’s results. (This is a more profound idea than it may at first appear because most employees in uninspiring cultures cannot fathom the mysteries of how their work connects with the organization’s performance). In an open-book management culture, anyone who is unhappy about anything in the organization, will have access to all of the organization’s data and can use this to do something about it. Inviting them to sign up for any email distribution list they choose, including the reports that, in other organizations, would only be seen by the CEO, gives confidence through transparency, and is empowering and inspiring. Conversely, treating corporate data as a secret creates a vacuum which will inevitably be filled by rumor, innuendo and fabrication—all ruinous to an inspiring culture. Such organizational cultures are derisively referred to as “mushroom management” for obvious reasons.

Aside from sharing certain sensitive human resource data, which is seldom wise, informative or inspiring, most other information can be safely shared without risk, and doing so demonstrates that leaders have self-confidence, trust employees, treat them as adults, and value their input, creativity and feedback. This leads to a more inspiring and robust sense of connection, camaraderie, shared purpose and community.

Are you a leader who is creative and courageous enough to open your kimono?