A client asked me: can I trust the executive team I am on when they ask for my opinion on controversial issues?
There is nothing quick about the answer to this question. It is a layered, nuanced, complex answer depending on many variables: who are the players? is it a culture of connection or disconnection? with what kind of emotional intelligence is the “truth” spoken: tone, words used, style of delivery? About what are they asking?
Telling the so-called truth is further exacerbated by the fact that talented, hard-charging, highly valued, ambitious professionals know stuff. And they want to share their experience and hard-won wisdom with others.
While we are constantly barraged by the buzz-word vulnerability we can also benefit from learning to hit the pause button to carefully consider what to say, when, to whom, and how. Practicing discernment is also a form of courageous vulnerability.
We can speak the truth without opening the whole kimono. We can honor what we know and step carefully. We can protect our emotional and professional well-being by not sharing our heart, strategy, brokenness, and valuable experience with people who don’t share their own truth, might not even be mindful of it, and trash ours.
Practicing discernment is not lying. Or withholding. Or secret-keeping. Know this: there are people who don’t show their hand, are careless with others, and are masters at getting others to talk while they share nothing. Giving these people our story or wisdom for safekeeping is not leadership or vulnerability; it is self-damaging and costly.
At the end of the day, I want my clients to hone the trust that matters the most: self-trust. If we honor our story and value our professional and personal treasure then we will develop trust in ourselves knowing what to tell, to whom, and when.
Karen is currently writing a book about how the power of connection can transform leaders into catalysts, groups into teams, and businesses into places where people lean in to courage, clarity, and compassion.
During this time of sanitizing wipes, hands made raw from washing, and lighting many a candle, let’s take a page out of the playbook of a global team our firm has worked with for many a moon. Their success is built on a myriad of strengths which include the ability to navigate chaos with courage and wisdom, using it as a catalyst for transformation.