Be Mindful of Conflicts of Interest, Vistage Fundamental #13

Be Mindful of Conflicts of Interest, Vistage Fundamental #13

While it’s OK to respond if a fellow group member asks for help with their business, never directly solicit business from other group members.

In the event that a substantial business relationship develops with another member, advise the rest of the group to be sure that the relationship doesn’t prevent you from sharing your deepest and darkest secrets.

by Steve Van Valin


Vistage Brandywine Valley
Trusted Advisors 1298


This is Steve Van Valin of Culturology, and I’d like to share this month’s fundamental for the Vistage Brandywine Valley Groups, led by our master chair, Jim Lucas. As you know, we have 14 fundamentals, and each month we take a focused look at one of them. This month, it’s number 13, to be mindful about conflicts of interest.

A lot of the elements of this fundamental are probably pretty obvious about business relationship conflicts, but I wanted to share with you this idea of being mindful about other things which perhaps take away from the performance or our ability as a group to get the most out of our experience together at Vistage.

The truth is, there’s a lot of landmine issues that we sometimes can be tempted to bring up and get ourselves into trouble, and we probably know what some of these things are. Probably the most hot topic right now of course is presidential politics; which side are you on, and vocalizing that, certainly a landmine, or gender or race insensitive comments that we might make. Talking about some of these hotbed social and political issues that we’re surrounded with are also danger areas. Things like the MeToo movement certainly is heated, and sometimes when we share very potent points of views or opinions about other people, it can come across negatively to other people and be a landmine. Then everybody’s favorite forbidden dinner topic, religion, can also be one of those as well. I didn’t want to talk about this from like okay, we have to be all politically correct, but just to be aware of what the danger may be when we actually vocalize these things.

All of us see and say about these issues and others through our own filter, our own unique perspective, and we certainly owe that opinion to other people, but how it’s done is really the key thing. So “What’s true for me is true for everyone” – if we have that attitude, we can sometimes get ourselves into trouble. We have to realize that our filter, what we think about it, may be unique and may be completely different from how other people may see things.

So here’s the lesson. It’s about hitting the pause button and really asking ourselves before we say things about those types of issues, whose benefit am I saying this, or I am about to say this? If it’s for me, if it’s all about me being compelled to say it or I have to get this off of my chest or I owe the truth to these people around me, then sometimes we can get into trouble. If it’s really about the benefit of other people and wanting to understand what their opinion is, what their perspective, their filter is, then we’re in a much better place to be more Vistage-aligned in our thinking.

Interestingly enough, as a very smart person once told me, the tongue is the most dangerous element of the human body. In fact, it was designed to live in a cave, surrounded by a cage of teeth because it can do so much damage. We know how long it takes to build respect and trust with each other, and you think how quickly it can be lost with just an errant comment or something that maybe we didn’t even mean to be offensive to somebody, but we let it slip there. So just think about that for a moment about the danger and the power of the tongue.

Aretha Franklin really is the lesson for us. It’s about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, about respect. In the end, it’s what we say, how we respond, the things that we want to really share with each other. We want go through the filter of respect first, and if we do that, then we have the high-performance interaction that Vistage is so famous for. Instead of having a conflict of interest, that is our interest: to have high-performance interaction with each other.

This is Steve Van Valin with Culturology.

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