Last week (Aligning Your Words and Your Actions) we described our participation in an online, professional group that was started to create a team of experts focused on providing high-quality, responsive programs that were of service to clients while building brand recognition and professional success for the providers.
The early stages of the project were done online, in view of the entire group. And then it happened. A post arrived in our mailbox from the originator of the idea, posted online for all to see and respond to, saying he had decided to extricate himself from the group as he felt that his original vision had been compromised. We knew that this was the first real test of alignment between the words and the actions of the leader of this group.
So, we went to the site to read the stream of conversation in response to this post and low and behold, the post had been deleted. Just deleted. No mention of it, even though plenty of us had seen it in our inboxes, and no follow-up from the deletion.
Because we were curious about how these dynamics would play out, we decided to do nothing until after an upcoming phone call – figuring this issue would be “discussed” in a more interactive medium. But no, nothing was said. Yet, all the while the idea continued to be espoused that this was a group of equals with transparency as a central value. During the call, we asked – via a question box, what had happened with the post from the originator of the group? Our question was not acknowledged. So after the call, we engaged the new leader of this group to discuss the confusing messages of this recent behavior and he said “we are being transparent about everything – just not about this . . . .”
You can imagine our disappointment to hear that this was his response. This one statement told us more about him than all the words espoused by him to date. Because of his action and his explanation (or lack thereof), we knew that our association with this group would be short-lived. You see, once he started to make exceptions about transparency, there would be other exceptions and other perspectives would remain undisclosed. In truth, this one decision made all of his other decisions suspect.
This week, we would like you to think about your management, leadership, parenting, and friendship style and consider if you ever give these same kinds of confusing messages. It’s important because it makes others – the two of us in this case but scores of employees world wide – step away in trust. Notice what we said, trust, not distrust. We found we didn’t distrust the “leader,” instead we trusted that he would use information as he saw fit and that we could trust that what we saw publicly would likely be only a small slice of what was actually going on.