The psychology of leaking in organizations

When the most accurate and substantive information about what is occurring with any organization is being revealed internally and/or externally via unauthorized communication, this shows that one or more of the following is true:
1. The leadership of the organization has no credibility with the employees, and is not respected by them
2. The leadership is engaging in abuses of power
3. The leadership is asking employees to engage in behaviors that are unethical and/or illegal
4. Leadership is unable or unwilling to communicate effectively or usefully to employees and external partners and customers
Systemic and endemic leaks occur for two main reasons:
– as a means of promulgating facts and truth, as a counter to The Official Position (which is regarded by the leakers as untrue and deceptive)
– a cry for help, along the lines of “this organization is dysfunctional and is unable to address that dysfunctionality internally, so we need external help”.
Leakers usually engage in internal dissent first, only to be told to Shut The Hell Up, since the organization is usually incapable of distinguishing between dissent and disloyalty. This is always true in authoritarian organizations, where unconditional loyalty and obeisance to leadership is the single most important behavior prized by leadership.
The standard focus on punishing leakers by many organizations sually sends the message that the organization is in denial about its dysfunctionalities, and intends to sweep it under the carpet by punishing leakers, rather than by addressing the root causes of dissatisfaction.
The current avalanche of leaks from within government bodies under the Trump administration provides compelling evidence that the leadership being provided by the Executive Branch is both deficient and dysfunctional.


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