Steps to Management Success – Step 32: There is No Such Thing as a Secret

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010


There is No Such Thing as a Secret

Keeping information confidential is one of your many professional responsibilities.

If you need to know why you can’t make exceptions to disclosing secrets, just look in the mirror. Admit it—you yourself know how hard it is to keep secrets, so you have more than an inkling of how difficult it is for others to do so.

WHAT IT MEANS: In your career, you will inevitably be entrusted with confidential information—sales figures, marketing plans, trade secrets, et cetera. You will certainly be tempted to reveal this information. After all, there’s a definite ego buzz to telling secrets. It shows that you’re in the know. You may even tell yourself that it’s OK, if the person you’re talking to is not connected to your industry in any way. After all, what good is a secret if you can’t tell anybody? Don’t fall into that trap. There was a popular saying during World War II: “Loose lips sink ships.” Well, they also compromise companies. As a manager or employee, you are also effectively a trustee of much information that was intended to go no further than you. Make sure to keep it that way.

ACTION PLAN: Write down what you know that is confidential, and keep it in a secure file. Review this file regularly, and commit yourself to ensuring that what’s in there goes no further. This exercise will keep you focused on what you should not be discussing freely.

EVEN BETTER: Make sure your staff and coworkers know that you’re a real hard-liner when it come to confidentiality. This is not an area to be lenient in. Be very clear as to the parameters of confidentiality regarding any company information—who can be told and who can’t? Don’t assume that everyone understands this concept as well as you do.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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