Can You Keep a Secret?

Leaders often have confidential discussions among themselves and on occasion with their employees. It goes without saying that something told to you in confidence must be maintained as confidential.

But what about the many conversations that aren’t labeled “confidential” as such, but really are private communications?

I’ve noticed that when some leaders get caught up in a crisis or overwork or overwhelm, their guard goes down and they leak a little (or a lot) of information that really isn’t intended for a broader audience.

Aside from the obvious issues of divulging privileged information, the outcome of this behavior can result in a culture of gossip and mistrust.

As your unintended disclosure is whispered among the ranks, it’s like the game of telephone: the original message is nothing like the message received by the last person.

Of course, you know what happens next. Bad feelings, misunderstood context, and distrust can creep into your organization, and all of these outcomes could have been avoided by simply keeping confidential information private.

Leaders who do this certainly don’t intend to create such disruptions, but need to know that being discreet is always better than speaking out of turn. If you need to talk to someone, identify a trustworthy confidant with whom you can safely and privately speak.

This extends to written communication, by the way, so be wary of writing emails that could be inadvertently (or not) forwarded to people who may be harmed by their contents.

The best practice? Keep quiet!

Have a great week!

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