Nothing to hide: The benefits of being fully open - Mark MacLeod

April 8, 2021 - Mark MacLeod

Nothing to hide: The benefits of being fully open

It is a truism that we fear what we don’t know. Left to our own devices, what we imagine is often worse than the reality. This is a hard-wired fight or flight survival mechanism. i.e. it won’t change.

If staff are wondering what’s happening, wondering what the truth is, wondering what you are really thinking, they are going to invent scenarios that are likely worse than the truth. The time they spend doing this is time not spent driving your company forward. And in this current, fully funded market where talent is more portable than ever, it will lead to great team members leaving for greener, and hopefully safer, pastures. Since fear of the unknown is, at its core, about safety.

Often in my conversations with CEOs, they are struggling with what to say or how to frame a particular issue. This could be around giving a team member harsh feedback, dealing with co-founder, board/ investor alignment issues, communicating that they are likely to have a big miss in the quarter, etc.

In all cases, my suggestion is the same: tell the truth.

If your staff, management team, investors and other stakeholders come to realize that they can always count on you for the unvarnished truth (whether they like it or not), you build an environment of massive trust. No one wastes time trying to figure out what your real agenda is.

The CEOs who adopt this practice, not only find that their companies run better, but they find they are freed of a massive weight. No longer carrying around unsaid things.

Now, I am not advocating that you turn around and hurl insults or otherwise be unpleasant. I am simply saying that the default orientation should be towards sharing the full truth always. That way, everyone can be 100% focused on making tomorrow’s truth better than today’s.

Questions to consider

What am I holding onto and not saying?

Why am I doing this? What am I afraid of?

What is the worst case scenario if I were to share these truths?

What are the benefits of sharing?

How would I feel if I was not carrying around unsaid things?

How much better would I perform if I was freed of this burden of holding onto what I am truly feeling?

Photo by Joël de Vriend on Unsplash

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