Accountability

Transparency: Active Awareness

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Photo by Mark Solarski

By Stephanie Angelo, High Stakes Mastermind Groups and Roger Wolkoff, All About Authenticity 

Part I of a two-part series. 

 

“Can I share something with you?”

“I need to get this off my chest.”

“I need to tell you something I can’t tell anyone else.”

Depending on the context of the situation, and your personality, these questions can be either innocuous or terrifying. Let’s say it’s your closest friend and it’s just the two of you sitting in a private corner of your favorite bistro. In this case, you may think the questions are on the harmless side.

Now imagine that the person asking the question is a co-worker and it’s just the two of you on your way to a meeting. Re-read the questions in this context and note how you react, paying attention to your feelings. Startling? Awkward? Uncomfortable?

Context Matters

The concept of transparency is at the heart of each of the questions. We face conversations and situations involving some degree of transparency every day. The issue is, then, what level of transparency is appropriate, and when?

We find at the two ends of the transparency spectrum complete closure and total openness. Some people are open books, while others remain complete mysteries. And everything in between. Therefore, transparency may be straightforward on the one hand and more demanding on the other.

Which leads us to time and place; when and where transparency is appropriate. Let’s focus on the scenario that involves work and co-workers.

The Nature of Work and Transparency

Much writing exists about transparency character traits and leadership, particularly at work. Research tells us that “…trust must be mutual and reciprocal” (Bandsuch, Pate, Thies – 2008). Where does that leave us in today’s workplace? First, communication is critical. Although we seemingly drown in an ever-flowing river of words and information, words matter. How we use them matters more.

But where do we draw the line when it comes to being transparent in the workplace? There is an appropriate amount of information which is necessary for us to do our work as well as build trust with colleagues.

What happens when we cross the line? Many of us are familiar with the acronym TMI – too much information. You likely have experienced someone holding up their hand to stifle the conversation when they have heard more than they are comfortable hearing.

What’s Considered Inappropriate

There is such a thing as too much transparency. We tend to think of this as over-sharing. Co-author Roger worked with a colleague, Sandy, who had issues with boundaries, especially with what information was appropriate to share. Sandy shared heart-wrenching personal stories in work meetings and hallway conversations. They were stories best saved for a close friend, or in some cases, a counselor’s office.

One-on-one conversations with Sandy not to share her personal stories in open work forums were not successful. She insisted that she was being transparent. She believed it was in the scope of acceptable behavior to tell what she felt where transparency stories, even though she received explicit requests not to. She thought she was connecting and “letting others in.”

Instead of building bridges, Sandy burned them. She misunderstood the concept of transparency and failed to consider personal boundaries. She did more harm than good. Her actions came at a cost to her health and work relationships.

What’s Considered Appropriate

Consider this situation and the role transparency plays. Let’s say that you and others belong to a group and that group has a facilitator.  There is an expectation that you and your fellow participants foster a culture of trust and transparency over time. It is the facilitator’s purpose to guide the group’s conversation and control the flow of ideas.

One more caveat: the facilitator is not obligated to share information about himself or herself. The facilitator administers the rules and guidelines of how the group operates. And it’s not necessarily their role to agree or disagree with a participant’s opinion.

There are two strong dynamics at play in this situation: boundaries and context. It’s natural in many cases for a facilitator to have personal role-based rules within the group. When you have a group that agrees to be transparent (like a Mastermind) and a facilitator whose role it is to abide by a different type of transparency, the participants and facilitator must agree to group boundaries and expectations.

Calls to Action

  • One takeaway is to be self-aware about whom you share with and what you share with them. Be selective about what you share, and with whom you are transparent. We don’t advocate non-transparency, rather we encourage selective transparency.
  • Another lesson is to be socially aware. Consider your audience. Whether it’s solely with another person or group of people. Look for signs or cues as you’re talking. Think about the effect what you’re saying has on the person or people in front of you. Also, think about occasionally asking the person or group if they’re comfortable with what you’re sharing. We all have different tolerances for what we consider appropriate and inappropriate information.
  • And lastly, consider time and space. The age-old advice that “there’s a time and a place for everything” holds when it comes to being transparent. Set boundaries. When you find that you’re at a loss for reading a situation, find a trusted friend or adviser to help you navigate these situations.

The Dalai Lama says, “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” How true. The key to transparency is awareness.

 

This is Part I of a two-part series.  See Part 2 on Sept. 24, 2019.

 

Stephanie Angelo helps companies attract, train and retain employees with keynotes and training focused on company culture of Traction not Transaction. She facilitates Mastermind Groups for business owners who hunger for collaboration with other business owners to scale their businesses.  For company culture improvement visit www.StephanieAngelo.com  Business owners learn more at www.HighStakesMastermindGroups.com

Roger Wolkoff will help you discover how emotional intelligence paired with authenticity improves communication, ups productivity, and positively influences culture. Visit https://www.rogerwolkoff.com/ to connect with Roger and work with him to help you deliver results and grow your bottom line. Roger is a keynote motivational speaker and author from Madison, Wisconsin.

 

Accountability

Stay In-bounds with Accountability

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Photo by Annie Spratt

By Roger Wolkoff, All About Authenticity and Stephanie Angelo, High Stakes Mastermind Groups

People in the service industry and those who run appointment-based businesses know the value of a promise. At its simplest level, an appointment is a two-person contract. Both parties agree to arrive at a specified time to complete an agreed upon task or service. For example, when you make an appointment to see your doctor, you agree to show up at 10:00 for 30 minutes for medical treatment and advice. Your doctor also agrees to show up at 10:00 for 30 minutes to provide said treatment and advice.

Put differently, appointments are accountabilities. Both parties, service provider and service receiver, are accountable to each other and the outcomes. A service contract highlights two key areas: holding yourself accountable and holding someone else accountable.
Accountable means responsible or answerable. Do what you say you’re going to do. It makes you credible. It builds relationships. It builds trust.
One aspect of accountability we can overlook is what role boundaries play. For example, “When is my work solely my work and not open to being used by others?” More specifically, “If I create a work product or process for an organization in which I volunteer, and it makes my life easier, do I have an obligation to make that work product or process available to the organization? I fulfill my accountability to the organization when I perform my role, but beyond that, does a boundary exist to protect my proprietary process and product?”

And this is where things can get thorny. It’s necessary to set boundaries to confound any assumptions or expectations about what we presume when we enter into service (or accountability) to ourselves and others. It’s easy for emotions, personalities, and our sense of right and wrong to play into the narrative of expectations and outcomes.

At what point do others feel entitled to more than what we promise to deliver? There are situations where it’s easy for us to be taken advantage of and create unspoken accountabilities and assumed promises. In these cases, clarifying roles is essential.
Consider the other side of the coin, as well. Ask yourself, is it worth the fight or the effort to protect something on principle? Or is it easier, in the long run, to maintain a relationship, or control the conversation?

Think about a work situation. Let’s say, for example, that your job requires you to produce a project plan for your client and you agree to deliver the plan. Over time and as you learn more about the project, you don’t believe that creating a project plan is necessary or worth your client’s time. Your manager disagrees and reminds you that it’s part of the standard work products you are required to deliver, and you agreed to do the work. Six weeks later, you remain firm in your belief that doing the work is a waste of time and you still haven’t done the plan.

Did you break trust? In this case, yes. You were accountable for the work and promised to deliver it. Regardless of your belief in the necessity of the work, you made a promise and by not delivering, you broke trust. Interestingly, one antonym for “accountable” is “untrustworthy”.
The issue at hand here is the fact that this was a work-place situation. The manager had the right to request the product in question, in this case a project plan. Consider it “other duties as assigned.” However, when we’re speaking of a volunteer scenario, for example a Board of Directors, no such obligation for the volunteer exists. Not delivering may lead to disappointment, but it should never lead to discipline (that would only be possible in the case of a crime, such as theft).

Back to our doctor appointment example, Dr. Judith Ziol, a Chandler, Arizona Naturopathic physician says, “I make it a point to never, ever make a patient wait more than five minutes”.

If you want to build trust and credibility, do what you say you’re going to do. When you are in the position to request deliverables and fulfill appointments, you can set the stage by showing others that you are trustworthy by holding yourself accountable first.
There may not be easy answers. However, the simpler the social contract, the easier the accountability.

Roger Wolkoff will help you discover how emotional intelligence paired with authenticity improves communication, ups productivity, and positively influences culture. Visit https://www.rogerwolkoff.com/ to connect with Roger and work with him to help you deliver results and grow your bottom line. Roger is a keynote motivational speaker and author from Madison, Wisconsin.

Stephanie Angelo keynotes and facilitates workshops on Cultures of Learning, Strategic Thinking and Collaborative Accountability, in addition, she facilitates Mastermind Groups for entrepreneurs. Imagine what it’s like to be a business owner with a hunger for collaboration with other business owners who experience the same challenges you do. Stephanie will help you take the Silo out of Solo. Contact her at www.StephanieAngelo.com

Accountability

Do People Talk the Talk and Walk the Talk?

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By Roger Wolkoff, All About Authenticity and Stephanie Angelo, High Stakes Mastermind Groups

Picture this scenario. Someone writes a book extolling the virtues of fidelity. Shortly after publication, we learn that the author had an affair while writing the book. Or think about the expert who writes about how to raise responsible kids, citing her children as examples. The police arrest one of her children for selling drugs at school. How do we react? We might be quick to judge. We may think, “Oh, the irony.” We may feel betrayed.
How often do we come across people who talk the talk and fail to walk the talk? Put another way, how is it that some people write about topics such as empathy, love, and compassion and fail to exhibit any of the qualities for which they claim to be experts?

Imagine you have a friend who writes about empathy. Now, assume that you and your friend find yourselves in a situation where he causes you emotional harm. The situation calls for understanding from him. Knowing that he is an expert on empathy, you expect him to behave towards you with empathy. You both know you need to talk. He tells you that he will call and be in touch.

You wait. And you wait some more. Weeks and months pass, and you don’t hear from him. How would you feel? Betrayed, perhaps? Yes, you can call him, but it’s not up to you. The responsibility is on him.

You’re left waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never drops. Instead, you hang onto false hope that he will call and ruminate about how he has not only wronged you, you question his integrity and authenticity. After all, he is the expert on empathy, right?
How do we process this situation? Both sides have choices to consider.

In this case, being on the receiving end of such behavior, you desire closure and resolution. You may expect that your friend will come clean and own up to the conversation they owe you. It’s likely that it will never happen if they’ve avoided reaching out after so much time has passed. For your well-being, consider your options to resolve the situation.

You can continue in limbo, although that choice doesn’t serve you well in the long run. Second, you can make your peace with the situation and put it behind you. Lastly, you can initiate communication with your friend and ask for what you want and need to fix the situation between you.
What about your friend? Are they aware of the difference between their publicly consumed words and their private actions? You probably feel like holding up a mirror to them and saying, “Don’t you see how your actions contradict your words and beliefs?!” It may be painfully obvious to you, but not to them.

If we assume that your friend acts knowingly and with awareness, then that’s another story. You may choose to confront them with your perceptions of their actions. Alternatively, you can let time run its course, knowing that their behavior will ultimately catch up with them.

It is irritating to experience such dissonance – dealing with someone who says one thing and acts in the opposite. We may even label it as false and amoral. Take a step back and reflect on the people whom you have in your life. You have a choice to be around people who nurture and support you. Find more of them. And spend less time around the people who deplete your soul.

In the second part of our three-part series, we explore the idea of accountability.

Roger Wolkoff will help you discover how emotional intelligence paired with authenticity improves communication, ups productivity, and positively influences culture. Visit https://www.rogerwolkoff.com/ to connect with Roger and work with him to help you deliver results and grow your bottom line. Roger is a keynote motivational speaker and author from Madison, Wisconsin.

Stephanie Angelo keynotes and facilitates workshops on Cultures of Learning, Strategic Thinking and Collaborative Accountability, in addition, she facilitates Mastermind Groups for entrepreneurs. Imagine what it’s like to be a business owner with a hunger for collaboration with other business owners who experience the same challenges you do. Stephanie will help you take the Silo out of Solo. Contact her at www.StephanieAngelo.com

Business Mastermind

What’s My USP? I’m OK with You Asking

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You’re shopping for a mastermind group. Did I say, “shopping”? Yes, and that’s OK. I always tell people that becoming a member of a mastermind group can be a big commitment because you are investing in yourself. At least you should be. It’s your future. Otherwise what you really want is a networking group or a club.

So, to ask me what my unique selling proposition (or points, as some call it) is – is totally OK with me. I’m going to ask you yours too.
Here’s what I think. They aren’t in any particular order and they are equally important.

Organized: As campy as it sounds without strong organizational skills I could not manage the different and very individualized client relationships I have. I’m on top of each person’s action plans and deadlines. I follow up and stay in contact with each person on those deadlines to the degree that they want me to. I also plan a plethora of logistics, phone calls, common emails, meetings and more. It’s front and back-end follow-up and follow-through.
Determination: I’m more determined to see my clients succeed and have exponential business growth than I am in mine – and I’ve very determined to grow my business. Imagine what that does for my clients.

Ethics: They are my life-blood. I do what I say and say what I’ll do. If for some reason I can’t fulfill a commitment I’ll tell you about it up front. But I will not make weak excuses. More often I will take the brunt of something that was not in my control. I’m loyal and have integrity. Hang out with me awhile and you’ll see. Be a client of mine and see how much effort I put into your success.

Role model: I’m on my clients and my mastermind group members about accountability. Doing their actions keeping their deadlines, follow through on commitments. That is my incentive for modeling all of those behaviors myself. One time I was seriously overwhelmed with a fantastic, but unexpected, project that had a very tight deadline. I was not able to put as much time into helping a client as her expectations had her wanting. I still feel sick about it to this day. I did what she asked just not to the degree she imagined. We should have set expectations in the beginning. Making sure that my clients see me modeling the same behaviors I expect from them is paramount to me. See the above paragraph on ethics.

Charitable:
We are all connected. Whether you think so or not. What happens across the street, or across the world, is still a part of the universe you and I live in and it matters. I give us much to charities as I’m able. It’s never as much as I want. As long as I’m doing what I can where I can, I know I’m making a contribution into our shared space.

There you have it. I guess you could call that my foundational message about myself. Hopefully you know me a little bit better and know what you will see in the way I live my life, care for my clients and run High Stakes Mastermind Groups.
Ask me what my unique selling proposition is – it’s totally OK with me. I’m going to ask you yours too.