In the workplace, too much information can be as dangerous as too little.
Team members want to be included and privy to what is going on. They relish fast-breaking news and value understanding how the leader sees and makes judgments about the team, the future, and the work at hand.
In the name of transparency and vulnerability, good leaders attempt to disclose what they can, when they can. But some leaders go too far.
Like everything else in life, too much of a good thing can become harmful. When leaders overshare or provide too much information, they can create havoc and dismay within the team.
For example, transparency about the health of the organization and the critical decisions on the table builds trust within the team. Up to a point. Leaders who overshare their doubts and concerns about the challenges ahead undermine confidence and promote doubt in others.
Similarly, leaders who disclose decisions before they are even partially baked create nervousness and expectation. Once the information exists, people respond and act on it, many times to the detriment of team success.
Leaders who over-disclose personal information, including their most private peccadillos, don’t foster a deeper connection with others. They freak them out. Despite the contemporary advice that leaders need to be vulnerable, clear boundaries need to be set.
Giving people too much information, too much data, or too many metrics about the task at hand can overwhelm them. At a minimum, too much information will slow people down and gum up their ability to think things through. When confronted with too much data, team members must sort out what is relevant and what is not. This adds an unnecessary step to getting things done and can throw the team off track.
Good leaders rightly promote a transparent and open workplace. They should work hard to share the information people need to perform and feel included. But when they overshare, providing too much disclosure or information, they turn a positive into a negative.
There’s a difference between a light and a floodlight.
An important reminder. In an attempt to be transparent, I too often strayed into oversharing as a leader, which sometimes sowed confusion and disillusion.
Do you think most examples of oversharing are noble attempts at transparency? Or is it people who don't know how to navigate confidentiality?