There is No Them

Lessons on leadership from the world of game development

Being Open About Your Secret Agenda

with 2 comments

Everyone has their own motivations. Groups of people may come together for a common goal, but very rarely do any of the indivduals give up on their particular motivations. Leaders who assume that the group’s goal trump the individuals motivations are susceptible to big surprises. Instead of pretending that the group’s goal is the only goal that matters, the smart leader understands that individual goals are also important. The enlightened leader goes a step further, building an environment where these individual goals are openly discussed and respected.

Like many things, the leader creates an environment where secret agendas are in the open by leading by example. The leader should be amongst the first to be open about their motivations. If you as a leader are unwilling to share your motivations with your team perhaps they are not as noble as you’d like to think they are. If shared with honesty and integrity a leader can gain credibility while also creating a better environment for their team. When your motivation as the leader is understood it gives license to others to share their motivations.

Someones secret agenda need not always be work related – I have found that often the something that is truly motivating someone is much deeper than work itself. This relates to another topic I will write about – the Power of I Want – but thats for another time.

Being open about your motivation removes the suspicions that result when others don’t know your motivations. Uninformed speculation is almost always destructive to an organization, and by removing the need for this speculation a leader can avoid many common troubles. I have found that owning your secret agenda, and encouraging everyone to share their secret agendas, is much better for the health of an organization than the alternatives.


Written by joshuahoward

November 19, 2008 at 9:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. totally true in the nonprofit world too. i think people don’t always know what their true motivations are so it can take a lot of prodding and encouraging to get it out of them. i’ve found that difficult to do.


    December 24, 2008 at 9:03 pm

  2. Sort of a tangent topic but I feel the same is true with making mistakes. It’s never a good idea to cover them up.

    I feel this is a lesson that politicians never learn. There are very few mistakes that people won’t forgive a person for if they are honest right from the beginning. After all we are all human, born to make mistakes [cue the Human League song].


    April 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

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