From e-mails to texts to the intranet, people are writing and reading 24/7. Writing is a great art and privilege. People rely on the written language for everything. It’s how we communicate messages, transfer information, gain alignment, and stay connected. That being said, “You can’t believe everything you read” is a statement that holds true in many businesses. To fuel healthy energy, you need to make sure that the messages being written in your business are transparent, and free from deceit, manipulation, and lies. If the words you’re choosing do not deliver a clean message, the whole story, and a positive intent, people will sense deceit a mile away. When they do, your business throws trust right out the window, and the toxic energy those words create will destroy the productivity of your business. People will go from wanting to work for you, to having to force themselves to show up and do the bare minimum just to get paid. No one wants to do anything for someone who uses deceit to manipulate their actions. You need to ensure that your business is not using the art of writing as a form of manipulation. It happens more than you think, especially when the financial stakes appear high.
Transparency is the bridge between truth and clarity, and it’s the action that keeps a business honest. Transparency is how a business delivers the whole story and presents all the details. Transparency is the living action of truth. You might be thinking, A business can’t always be transparent. Spin it however you want from a business leader’s point of view:
We don’t want too much information getting out. If all the information came out it would be detrimental to revenue and profits, and our stock would go down.
We don’t want to rock the boat and harm performance.
We don’t want to take people’s focus away from what they really need to be doing.
They don’t need to know all that information to do their job.
They can’t handle the truth!
Here’s the deal: The truth is going to come out sooner or later. All the information will reveal itself, whether you want it to or not. If you’re not transparent, the truth will start as gossip, and people will take the gossip as truth because that’s the only “information” they have to hang onto. A leader may break under pressure and share everything with a line-level friend, and that line-level friend will share her version of the truth with everyone else. Before you know it the news has spread like wildfire. Now the business has to spend hours fixing, smoothing over, and making excuses for why it wasn’t transparent to begin with; not to mention the effort that now has to go into rebuilding trust rather than nurturing the trust that already exists. Rebuilding is always more costly than maintenance.
As a business leader, you have choice. You can choose to be transparent by delivering truth and clarity with conviction, or you can you choose to only deliver a partial message that causes confusion and emotional turmoil. For every leader there is a defining moment: Someone will ask you to withhold the whole story. If you do, the people in your business will see you as a liar. I get it; you’re in a high-profile business, and some very important people who make six or seven figures are telling you to “Keep it a secret. Don’t show anyone. For your eyes only—and only while you’re in the club of leadership.” I get your reality, but here’s the deal: If you choose to continue the dysfunction by not sharing the whole story, you are a liar. That personal label never feels good, and it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of.
If you’re not being transparent, you can’t justify being frustrated that people aren’t doing what the business needs them to do. That’s like inviting someone to a meeting, not telling them the room number or time, and then getting upset because they didn’t show up. When someone has clarity because he inherently knows that he’s being told the whole story, he’s motivated to move the business forward.
Let’s take it a step further. When was the last time you were excited, motivated, and inspired to do something nice for someone who was deceitful and manipulative to you? When was the last time you walked up to your significant other or friend and said, “I really wish you we’re a complete liar. That’s the type of person I want to be around. That’s the type of person I want to give my all to. That’s the type of person who gives me energy.” Yeah, the green kind that comes in the form of slime. Yuck! If you think this is harsh, you’re right, it is. And it needs to be, because it’s the truth. It’s the whole story that no one wants to talk about. Or it’s talked about, but we don’t allow it to get personal. We justify it by saying “It’s my job.” No, it’s not. It’s called leadership dysfunction at its best.
We convenience ourselves that being a liar is okay as long as we’re getting paid to do it. The more we get paid, the more we’re asked to lie. The more we lie, the more toxic energy gets dumped into the business. You and everyone one else in the business are now caught in a cycle of perpetual deceit that generates enough destructive energy that your whole body feels like it’s stuck in cement and you can’t move anywhere—certainly not forward. Yet we still go back to justifying it. Hell, we even feel important when we make it to the top and get to be one of the few people who not only know the whole story but also get to lie about it. When you look at it from the perspective of being in a personal relationship, you know it’s sick, demented, and wrong.
Just thinking about being on the other side of deception is enough to give anyone anxiety and heartache. Think about the last time you were lied to, the last time you were impacted by someone who chose not be transparent and give you the whole story. Do you remember the feeling of heaviness? Can you feel it now just thinking about it? That heaviness you’re feeling is the toxic energy that lives in a business when the business is unhealthy. It’s the same heaviness that every person, from the part-time janitor to the CEO, gets to carry when the business chooses to withhold truth. It’s the heaviness that businesses are asking leaders at all levels to deliver to the rest of the people in the business. Congratulations—you’ve made it to the top. Now the question is, do you have the courage to change it?
Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.