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by: Travis Marsh

How awesome would it be if everyone on your team acted like an owner? It’s part of the founder dream. When the team thinks and acts as I do, I’ll be able to step back for a bit, take a restful vacation.

So why isn’t everyone as accountable as you, the founder CEO?

Many answers exist to this question. All are rooted in the same soil. 

At the beginning of Lead Together Susan, Travis and I share five principles. We find these principles essential to the building of a thriving organization. One of those five states: “Transparency, trust and agency are core to a culture of accountability.” Think about it. Is it fair to expect anyone to act like an owner unless they are trusted with access to the same information?

“If you want people to make the same decisions that you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have.” -Keith Rabois

Test the level of transparency in your organization by asking yourself the following:

  • How many of our channels on Slack / Teams / Chat limit access to some team members? Why?

  • How much of our financial performance data gets shared with the team? Why not more?

  • Which philosophy best describes our company’s approach to transparency: When in doubt lock it down or When in doubt share it out?

  • How do our formal and informal team agreements make information inaccessible? Why not change them?

  • How do we react when information is over-shared? Is it a learning opportunity or a crisis?

  • How much do I, as a leader, make my internal decision-making process visible? How can I share more?

Four reasons have us gravitating to confidentiality:

We need to protect our proprietary information.

It’s true that some information needs to be kept safe. Anxiety often overpowers our sense of reason.

I need to keep the team focused.

Do you worry that sharing too much info will distract the team? It’s a fair concern. Keep in mind that there’s a difference between broadcasting and making information available to those who need it.

I need to maintain my power.

Ouch! This one hits close to home for many of us. Unconsciously we know that information is power. By keeping info to ourselves, we please our ego… but at what cost?

I want to avoid tough conversations.

Yes, sharing information does increase the likelihood of interpersonal tensions. The healthiest teams prefer to face these directly.

If you desire a culture of accountability, take a close look at how you and your colleagues limit transparency within your team.


Ask around.

What information and insights do others need that you can provide?

Remove bottlenecks and boost a sense of ownership through transparency, trust and agency. Before long it will be time to prepare for that restful vacation!

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