Freeing Ourselves to Live Transparently

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See how unseen desires drive us away from living transparently, to operating with deception or manipulation. Learn to expand your awareness, live in alignment with your values, experience inner peace and closer relationships.

Setting Up Unnecessary Challenges

We’re going to make mistakes, it’s part of that whole being human thing. Hopefully, we learn from them. I’m pretty sure my client, Christian, learned from his particularly painful lesson having to do with transparency.

Get a nice cup of tea, kick back, and I’ll tell you a story that may well guide us all in being “cleaner” in our relationships.

A Self-Inflicted...Learning Experience

Christian owned a technology company with 80 employees. They were an upbeat team that reveled in the family feel and creative latitude they had in their jobs. They also felt taken care of by the healthy bonuses they got at the end of each of the last three years — the result of rising profits.

A conglomerate approached Christian with a surprisingly large and enticing offer for his business.

The only problem was that the sale was predicated on his raising the bottom line by an amount he thought might be too much of a stretch. And, that they’d be moving the production side of the company overseas.

Christian countered the offer, willing to accept less for the sale if the demand for bottom line increase was reduced and keeping his team employed.

They wouldn’t go for it and said the purchase was only worth it if the profit margin was larger and that they would merge the production with another overseas company for cost-savings.

Ultimately, he decided to go for it.

The sale price was so substantial that he planned to give everyone 6-months’ severance at close-of-sale to share in the bounty and also have time to find other work.

Manipulation and Consequences

Quoto: When learning to  live transparently, we may share a little too much or not enough at times, but with practice, we’ll learn where the sweet spot is.

Christian considered telling the team but decided against it. This lack of transparency was an act of manipulation.

But he didn’t want anything interfering with reaching the goal and he thought that it was better to just operate as usual. So he set his sights on creating a plan to generate the increase in profit.

(Now, let’s freeze this story for a moment. I know that some of Christian’s choices will sound like terrible leadership, some of it even shake your head stupid. But this story and its entanglements are not unusual. It goes on all the time.

We get caught up in wanting things and lost inside of that wanting. And it makes us say or do things we normally wouldn’t. We’re never at our best when this happens. So, a bit of compassion for Christian…and for ourselves. And hey, this has a storybook ending so keep reading! Alright, I’ll continue.)

An Unwise Change in His Approach

Okay, so he decided not to tell the team because he wanted what he wanted.

Putting his plan into motion, he began to enthusiastically cheerlead for bigger sales and better efficiency. Of course, the team thought that was odd because he had never done that before.

More than anything, this distracted the team. And when big gains didn’t happen, he began adding pressure, another thing he’d never done before.

The team was irritated by the pressure and it was obvious to them that something was off. We can all relate to this, right?

A lot of water cooler talk centered on wondering if the company was in trouble and some people started looking for jobs to protect themselves.

At a team meeting, they asked what was going on. Christian, with difficulty making eye-contact, made up a story about how after three up years, companies often plateau. He said the best practice was to push hard so teams will kick butt. They all just looked at him and he felt a big knot in his stomach. Then came the onslaught of negative feedback, and he didn't know how to handle all of the strong judgement.

Seeking Guidance When We’re Too Inside It

Quoto: When we let down our walls of self-protection and communicate transparently,we can experience a profound sense of freedom.

Right after that meeting is when he sought me out for coaching.

In our sessions, Christian quickly recognized the extent to which he had breached trust with his team. He saw that his out of character behavior was driven by his strong desire for the big payday.

And the fear — that if he told his team about the possible sale, that some employees would leave.

And if key team members left, that would kill his chances of improving the bottom line. He’d be left with not only no sale — but having lost core team members.

Clearly, ego overtook his common sense and the goodness of his heart. Desire has done this to all of us when we’re insufficiently aware.

The Imperative to Clean Up Our Messes

Christian felt shame about how he had treated everyone and wanted to clean things up. We agreed that transparency was imperative, and his gut said telling them the entire backstory was the right thing to do.

By the time he was ready to face the music, he was in a place where he could allow that they could have very strong feelings and views about what he had done.

He wanted to honor the team and return, if they were willing, to being in partnership together.

Embracing Transparency: A Difficult Conversation

He called another meeting at which he explained and apologized for his off behavior and the pressure he had leveraged, as well as its impact on them.

He told them about the offer he received, his excitement, his plan to give them each 6-months’ severance as an expression of gratitude.

He shared how wrong it had felt to withhold what was going on from them and for lying.

He acknowledged that he didn’t know how to handle the situation well — that he got totally hooked into getting such a big payday — but that that was no excuse for the breach of trust — that they all deserved more respect than that.

He closed by saying that the sale offer was still on the table, but that he didn’t know how or whether to proceed and wanted their input.

The Aftermath: Rebuilding from Transparency

The team was very angry and did beat him up verbally for a while. But they were also somewhat disarmed by his newfound transparency and courage to vulnerably own what he had done.

The team had mixed feelings about the idea of losing their jobs but receiving a 6-month severance, which was very tempting. For the most part, they really liked their jobs and had liked the company environment.

At some point, the room got quiet and it seemed like there was nowhere to go with the conversation.

Being in Collaborative Partnership

Quoto: Being transparent doesn’t mean we have to share every aspect of what we’re thinking, feeling, or doing — discernment about what is most important and relevant to share is required.

Christian then told them that the choice of whether to go for it or not was entirely in their hands. And acknowledged that he was just stating the obvious, because the only way it could happen is if they all got on board and went for it, aligned.

He and I had run numbers prior to the meeting and based on that, he then told the team that if they did decide to go for it, that he would up the severance package to 9-months.

For him, this was a part of cleaning up his behavior and coming back into balance. A costly one, yes, but it felt right to him.

The team ultimately bought in and went for it, and it brought them together, perhaps more than ever. They worked it. They really worked it and nearly reached the threshold required. But it wasn’t enough to make the sale work.

So what happened? They all celebrated a great year of working in harmony and thriving, got huge bonuses, and kept the jobs they loved. (FADE TO BLACK)

Truly Learning the Importance of Transparency

When we give up strategizing how to manipulate people, and instead, let down our walls and communicate transparently — the stress of trying to get people to do this or that naturally drops away. In its place can be a profound sense of freedom.

Being transparent doesn’t mean we have to share every aspect of what we’re thinking, feeling, or doing — discernment about what is most important and relevant to share is required.

Yes, when learning to lead transparently, we may share a little too much or not enough at times, but with practice, we’ll learn, over time, where the sweet spot is.

With greater self-awareness we’ll be far less inclined to attempt to manipulate. We’ll be more aware that our desires are driving our needs toward inappropriate behaviors. And we’ll find ways to better meet those needs.

We all have the capacity to expand and deepen our awareness. We all have the capacity to be open and honest — to live transparently. We all have the capacity to do this…Now.


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