Leaks are a symptom, not a problem.

Leaks are bad, I agree. But let’s take it a level deeper. Why do people leak, as opposed to pledging absolutely loyalty to the guy in charge?

When you’re in charge (if you’re good at your job) you need information. You need it from everyone – those who agree with you, those who disagree with you, everyone. You need it to make great decisions that improve the results of your endeavor.

How do you get that information?

First, you create good relationships with the people on your team. If you don’t know how to do that, you probably shouldn’t be in charge.

Second, you create an atmosphere that encourages openness, reduces the importance of rank, and rewards speaking up with well thought out yet unpopular opinions.

Third, you make it ridiculously clear that anyone and everyone’s opinion is wanted and needed, and you’ll consider them all, but in the end your decision is the one that matters. You want their opinions, you need their opinions, but your ass is the one on the line, so respect the fact that your decision will be yours to make. No offense is intended if an opinion is heard but not acted upon. It will always be heard, no matter what.

Fourth, you set up a safety valve to make sure that it’s much less likely that someone will go around you if they feel wronged. It can be an ombudsman. It can be a simple suggestion box. But in the end, you take the chance of backlash from 5% down to 1% with a simple bit of forethought.

Finally, when leaks do happen (because they will), you gather the troops and loop back to Step 1 – tell them you understand that leaks only happen when people don’t feel heard, and you want to assure them that the message was heard by you. Someone on this team leaked information because they needed to be heard, and I clearly failed you. I will work on improving our relationships and our atmosphere going forward.

If you need my help, Donald, I’m good at this stuff. Hit me up. 281-734-7795.

3 thoughts on “Leaks are a symptom, not a problem.

  1. What I love about this article is that it’s not leaker-focused. I’ve read so many articles condemning the leakers, which, to be fair, is a legitimate argument. But it’s not the real story. The real story is what’s causing all of the leaks. Not to get into controversial territory here, but the real story behind the Snowden leaks wasn’t Snowden himself, it was why he was leaking this information in the first place. In the case of Snowden, it was rampant government overstep and violations of privacy. In this case, it’s an administration in complete and utter chaos.

    • Thank you for reading my post! You are so right – I feel like the root cause of many of the problem-du-jour carousel we’re watching is the guy at the center of the ride. Everything’s wobbly because we the people installed a bent axle. Sure, we can keep seizing upon the results, but the real issue is that we have a bad leader that predictably creates these results. Management is a science that is learnable…but not if you show up thinking you know everything, e.g. our current leader.

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