Accountability

Transparency: Active Awareness

Posted on
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.

 

Business Mastermind

What’s My USP? I’m OK with You Asking

Posted on

 

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.

Accountability Partners

Sweet! Power of Shared Experiences

Posted on
Photo by Charisse Kenion

Does it help you to know that potentially hundreds of other people are also reading this newsletter? What you’re doing is sharing an experience even though you’re not sharing it together. Studies have shown that people who experience something alone experience it at a different level as when they are actually sharing it with other people at the exact same time.

“…in another recent Psychological Science study that found that sharing experiences—even with a complete stranger—makes people rate those experiences as more intense than people who underwent them alone. In that experiment, students reported liking a square of 70-percent dark chocolate more when they ate it at the same time as another study participant. They said the chocolate was more “flavorful” than those who ate it alone. This holds for negative experiences, too: Those who ate a square of 90-percent dark chocolate—shown in pre-tests to be unpleasant—rated it as less tasty when they ate it at the same time as someone else.” The Importance of Sharing Experiences, Olga Khazan Oct. 16, 2014

One of the extraordinarily powerful aspects of being in a mastermind group is that although each individual member is dealing with their own experiences based on the business that they own, or the company in which they work, the fact that they are discussing these elements together helps them share the experience of assisting one another to accomplish goals, resolve issues and realize future plans.

It hasn’t mattered whether this takes place during the in-person meetings or the virtual groups. They all continue to be powerful, robust meaningful and successful. I’m excited to say that in May we will be having our first-ever retreat. Besides a full working agenda, we have lots of fun planned too. And I can’t wait to let one of our members loose in the kitchen – the foodie in the group who has volunteered to be our chef!

Is there something missing for you that can be resolved by being a member of a Mastermind group? Contact me for an exploratory conversation to see what this could do for you. We have a Virtual Mastermind group launching on March 19th. Registration closes February 24th. Could this be the group for you? How would your life improve if you could share experiences with people who understand you, “walk in your shoes” too, and is facilitated by an experienced group leader who will ensure that you are heard every time and tracking to accomplish your goals?

Being in a Mastermind is one of the most powerful and life changing experiences you can ask for. And sometimes it does include chocolate!