Is Gossip an Organizational Time Bomb? …Seriously?!


I was raised in a tiny town in rural America with a population less of less than three thousand people. When I was first married, my husband and I met a couple that were raised in the second largest city in the U.S. with a population of almost four million.

The husband had been in street gangs and literally fought for his life.

When he asked what was dangerous in my hometown, he just about busted a gut when I said… “Gossip.”

Words were no threat to someone who had dodged bullets.

It seemed insensitive and pointless to try to argue that King Solomon really knew what he was talking about when he said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

When bullets are flying – gossip won’t kill you.

But here’s the thing…

One of the most divisive people I’ve ever known was hired to be a new titled leader for a strong team. The team quickly caught her in a series of lies and questioned everything she said. So she planted a minefield that was designed to destroy the team’s unity – by asking each one of them the question below. Each time she would insert a different name and a different reason to doubt, “Do you think so and so is _________?”

As soon as she asked the question, each person’s focus was redirected from the behavior of their new boss, to the little seed of doubt that she just planted about their teammates. Soon those seeds of doubt grew into full-blown fear of each other.

Now the team didn’t trust her, and they no longer trusted each other either –by dividing them she remained in control. And instead of the synergy they once shared, each one felt as if they were completely on their own.

Motivation and morale tanked… And eventually results followed.

And just in case you think a healthy corporate culture is just warm fuzzy stuff, check out what Organizational Expert Patrick Lencioni has to say about it,

If your vision includes a growing organization filled with engaged employees. Don’t underestimate the life and death power of the tongue.

Please share: How are you investing in the health of your organization?

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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2 thoughts on “Is Gossip an Organizational Time Bomb? …Seriously?!

  1. I lived in a small town, population 1200 where before I did anything the neighbors already knew it. I grew up with a healthy and hefty loathe of gossip. I read about the actions of this divisive leader and thought back to a manager I had. She was devious in her ally seeking leadership. She singled each of us out on her team and secretly told us she was grooming us for her position. I knew about her ploy because team members had individualy taken me into their confidence. I also knew her personally through a network of mutual friends. When she approached me with her speech, I was able to tell her that I had my sights on a different job in another area, so thanks, but I’m not interested. I have no idea what possesses intelligent people to be double minded. We were given one brain. If we focus on the truth, confusion is minimized.

    • Interesting Jane that we both grew up in little towns that thrived on gossip.

      It is so important that we learn to recognize divisive people for who they are, and learn to stand together against their tactics. Speaking truth and shining light until they change their behavior or leave.