When I was a graduate student working towards my PhD in Psychology I developed a theory on the origin of rumors. Oh wait, I forgot, I was never a graduate student working towards a PhD in anything. I’m just a sales guy who has been around long enough to know some stuff. (Let’s see if my non PhD turns into a rumor) 🙂
But I did develop a theory on the origin of rumors. I figure people have this space inside them, like in their brain, where they hold information. They are most comfortable when that space is full. If it isn’t filled with actual information from factual sources then they fill it themselves, often with rumors.
That would make factual information the enemy of rumors.
Bosses, managers and even leaders all claim to hate rumors floating around in their organizations. Yet they fail to understand their own role in the creation of those rumors. When they fail to keep their people full of factual information their people latch on to rumors to fill up their information space.
Many bosses, lots of managers and even some leaders believe that information is power. They think that when they share information they somehow lose some of their power and control over their people. So they withhold information. Even information that could help their people be more productive and successful.
What Authentic Leaders understand is that information only becomes powerful with it is shared with people who can somehow benefit from it. Some people may use the information to avoid a problem. Other people may use it to solve a problem that already exists. Still other may use it to finish a creative project that was started by someone else who lacked the information required to finish it. Many people just pass the information along to other people to help them grow and develop.
Still more people file the information away in their “space” until the day they find a use for it.
Very little information is actually useless. It will likely all be used at the appropriate time and place. That’s why the most successful people gather bits of information every single day. Most people call the gathering of those bits of information learning.
So if you’re a boss, manager or leader ask yourself how much information do you withhold from your people for the simple reason that you can. Ask yourself if your unproductive habit of not sharing information stems from your belief that holding onto information somehow makes you more important or powerful. Ask yourself if your unwillingness to share information might be a result of you lacking faith in your own leadership abilities.
Then ask yourself what information you’re holding right now that could help the people you lead. Maybe it’s information that would help build the culture of your organization. Maybe it’s information that could help the sales team sell more. Maybe it’s information that could help your people help more customers. And maybe it’s just a fun tidbit of information about the company that people would appreciate knowing.
Once you’ve answered those questions then you can launch your assault on rumors within your team or organization. Information is a formidable enemy of rumors. Arm your people with the information they want and need and their space will be too full to allow rumors to enter.