Journal: People Science - Human Capital Management & Leadership in the public sector Volume 1, Issue 2 Spring/Summer 2014 - Page 23

was in the news criticizing the President’s credentials. It was ironic but I conveyed that information to the White House and everyone understood it had been a legitimate and proper decision. That’s an example of information being legitimately blocked from leaders as a result of structure and regulation. MJ: Good leaders will appreciate that a complex problem requires multiple responses. That is how I treat the problem of leading in the dark. There is no silver bullet but there are a number of strategies. Let me sort through three of them: Transparency, flexibility, and measures. First of all, transparency. Frankly, transparency is an important organizational value that has not always been valued. Back in the 1800’s, during the time of massive immigration into the United States, there was a concern MJ: Yep. Culture is a major factor in information flow. on the part of industrial leaders around labor organizing. Think of organizations that have cultures of retribution. As a result, the workers in factories were often deliberately Their internal norms effectively encourage people to hold assigned so that people weren’t working next to others information, not because of disloyalty but because they who spoke the same language. If communications were want to cover themselves. limited, the thinking went, workers “ I’ll be here when you’re gone, and so I’m not couldn’t discuss their problems Or, in another example, there going to take the time to inform you.” and consider unionizing. is the attitude on the part of the permanent career staff in That is almost exactly the government about briefing their opposite of what we’re facing now. At that time there were leadership. It goes like this: “I’ll be here when you’re gone, decisions and strategies to hamper the flow of information. and so I’m not going to take the time to inform you.” In Now information flows all over the place. We are in a world their defense, many political people only stay for a year where transparency is much more possible. Organizations or two, and it is a genuine burden on the organization to are flatter and technology is a good catalyst. Information bring each new person fully on board. But, nevertheless, that used to be sent up and down the reporting hierarchy the culture is not entirely about being forthcoming. is now online, posted to the website, and available for everyone to see. PS: The list of things that block information is long. PS: Structure and regulation are visible and proscribed obstacles. I suspect there are others, less visible. MJ: It certainly is. And, it is never complete without looking at IT, which both helps and actually hinders a leader trying to get out of the dark. Grant