How Leaders Should Navigate The Tricky Topic Of Privacy

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As a leader, you’ll have a very interesting relationship with privacy. For starters, privacy in your business can relate to a few different things. On the one hand, it might cover things like customer or client privacy, meaning you have to keep their records and information private and secure. 

This type of privacy isn’t too challenging for a competent leader to handle. It’s simply a case of going through the right processes, implementing a privacy management system, and staying in line with all the government and federal regulations. Here, we’re talking more about privacy from an information standpoint, but that’s not the tricky relationship you’ll have. 

Instead, we’re going to cover privacy from the perspective of both you and your employee’s personal privacy. What this means is that you both have your work lives, which are more open to the world, and you have your private lives that are more closed off. As a leader, you really have to tread the line between what is considered open and private. For example, do you get involved in issues relating to an employee’s private life? Or, do you bring your private life to work or maintain the utmost privacy at all times? 

Your initial answer might be that private lives should stay private. However, if you want to be a good leader, you need to know where to draw the line. That’s what we’re going to cover in today’s post: how do you know when to draw the line and stay out of your employees’ private lives?

When private life affects work-life

This is often a scenario that bamboozles a lot of leaders. There are problems in an employee’s private life that are directly affecting them at work. These issues could be very personal, but they are impacting your business. In a scenario like this, the best leaders will take action and get involved. It may feel like you’re being intrusive, but talk to the employee and understand what’s making them stressed or agitated at work. From here, you can take action to help them deal with their private problems. As an example, they might be super stressed because they were in a car crash and suddenly had to pay for repairs, meaning they can’t pay their bills on time this month. As a gesture of goodwill, you could offer to pay them early, so they can make the necessary payments. This might solve the problem, raise their morale, and get them back working at their best. 

If you ignored their personal issues, didn’t involve yourself and ask about their private life, nothing would change. You’d have a stressed employee that might stay stressed for many weeks or months, but you’ve actively changed that. 

When the well-being of an employee is a concern

Secondly, it is a good idea to ask about someone’s private life when you feel their health & wellbeing is under threat. For instance, you may see that an employee is showing signs of addiction. Speaking to them about this and helping them find the right help is a sign of a good leader because you’re actively caring for your employees. 

If you suspect that an employee isn’t well or isn’t feeling too great for reasons related to their private life, it is okay to step in and intrude. It might feel as though you’re stepping over the line and being nosy, but you’re not. You’re getting involved for a good reason; to help them out. 

When you have lessons to share

Similarly, sharing your own private experiences can be a good idea at times. As a leader, you want to be an open book. You want your employees to know as much about you as possible, which will mean opening up your private life to them – to an extent. A leader that’s very private and closed off is hard for anyone to connect with. It can create a disconnect between the leader and their team, which is never a good thing. 

If you have snippets of information from your private life that you think will benefit your employees to know, share them. You can use them as a way of teaching lessons, while also helping you connect with them on a more grounded level. It paints you as a leader that’s also a normal human being, which your employees will like. 

In conclusion, there will be times when you shouldn’t pry and you should let your employees live private lives. Don’t pester them at home, don’t try to learn everything about them! But, there are instances where it’s okay to step over the line and ask about personal issues if you think their private lives are harming the business or harming their own health. 

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