The Hidden Benefit of Disclosure



I’m not passive-aggressive…I’m just aggressive.  I recognize it’s a problem for the teams that I work with.

This was the start of my first leadership coaching session with Renée.

Still early in her career but wise beyond her years, Renée has a healthy dose of self-awareness.  She knows her own strengths and liabilities.  Intelligent and opinionated, Renée also knows that she has a horrible poker face: people around her know exactly what she’s feeling when she’s feeling it.

Renée had just started working with a new team, and was hitting some bumps.  She knew that her aggressive direct style was shutting down some of the quieter team members.  If the pattern was to continue, the team’s results (and their morale) would suffer.

I asked Renée if she had told her teammates about her personality preferences.  Had she shared with them upfront that she knows that she tends to be direct?  Had she told them she doesn’t mean to step on toes, but sometimes does?  Had she offered apologies in advance?

Renée seemed dumbfounded by the questions.You mean, I could just tell them that?  I could just lay my cards on the table for everyone to see?

Why not?Renee’s surprise is not unique.  Like many professionals, Renée holds herself to a standard of perfection.  She thought all of her self-awareness was for her own eyes only. To reveal her traits to others felt like “cheating”.

Part of leadership development is knowing where to ask for help.  What’s the point of all of these personality assessments (DiSC, MBTI, etc.) if you can’t use that information in real time with others you have to work with?

Once Renée realized she could share her “flaws” with her teammates, she looked two tons lighter.  She no longer had to carry the impossible burden of perfection.

When Renee and I met next, she was beaming from ear to ear.  Her teammates had been incredibly receptive to her honesty, and their teamwork had taken a gigantic leap forward.  Their “storming” had evolved into “norming and performing.”

Where has disclosure helped your teamwork and your leadership?  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.  

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