You Can’t be a Leader if You Can’t be Trusted



As you know, I’m the owner and facilitator of High Stakes Mastermind groups. It is my responsibility to come up with thoughtful, useful and timely information that will add value to the lives and careers of the group members. As with any intellectual business, my thoughts, words and ideas are my livelihood, as they are what keep my groups running, and my clients interested in my services.

Recently, I experienced an incident that bothered me so much, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

An acquaintance asked me some questions about my groups, how they run, and how they are priced. I gave her the answers with the understanding that we were two business owners just chatting and sharing ideas.

About one month later, I found out she was doing a presentation with the information I had so willingly passed on to her. Of course, she did not credit me with the material.

I felt robbed. Although it just stops short of being intellectual theft, it was highly unethical of her not to disclose her reasons for wanting the details of my business, and where it would end up.  If she had been honest with me, and told me why she wanted the information, I would have been more than willing to share the information in a collaborative manner.

Of course, after this incident, I consider the bridges to be burned with this individual, and I’m sure she knows it too.

I can and will move on, but to me, the big question is, was it worth it to her? When she gave the presentation, she must have known that I would find out, be upset and feel cheated, and that we had eliminated any possibility of working together in the future. In our line of work, trust is so important, and your name means a lot – why would she put it all on the line to take that losing gamble?

In this case, she would have had everything to gain if she had been honest. Her presentation would have been more complete, as I would have shared the information willingly, and she would have had a new associate. Again, in this industry two heads are better than one.  Sharing and collaborating are the very cornerstone of what Masterminding is about.

I can only guess that it was a momentary lapse in judgement that prevented this individual from telling me the truth. Perhaps it was fuelled by fear – a worry that I would refuse to share the information, which would leave her in a lurch. Maybe she didn’t even think about it.

Whatever the cause, the damage has been done. The trust has been lost, and a potential working relationship extinguished before it could begin.

The takeaway? Ethics are everything – and can either unite people, or pull them apart. Although I feel as if something had been taken from me, it’s really this person that has suffered the bigger loss – she’s lost trust, respect, and has to live with the knowledge that she was less than honest.


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About Stephanie | Stephanie Angelo, SPHR, SCP

Stephanie has been a Mastermind group facilitator for various professionals of a breadth of industries, from non-profits to counselors, physicians, financial planners, and college professors, and has been a member of several groups in her career. Contact her here.

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