Public Disclosure of Private Struggle


Struggle begins with your first gasp for breath and ends with your last. Leaders struggle.

Wise leaders expose struggle wisely.

Leaders struggle with:

  1. Loneliness.
  2. Humility.
  3. Certainty.
  4. Image.
  5. Patience.
  6. Serving and self-interest.
  7. Authenticity and honesty.
  8. Purpose and meaning.
  9. Balance.
  10. Decisions.
  11. Priorities.
  12. Pushing performance or supporting progress.

(That was one of the easiest lists I ever wrote.)

Go further by learning the art of the struggle rather than ignoring it.

Hiding struggle intensifies struggle.

I talked with the author of, “Leadership and the Art of the Struggle,” about:

Public vs. private disclosure.


Snyder said, “Always consider the group’s reaction to publicly disclosing struggle.”

Publicly disclose what serves, nothing more. Keep self-serving, self-affirming disclosure private. Public disclosure must enhance:

  1. Individual relationships.
  2. Organizational objectives.
  3. Leadership effectiveness.
  4. Conflict resolution.
  5. Leadership development.

If this sounds inauthentic, too bad. Leadership positions aren’t for self-validation.


“Everyone needs someone they can be completely honest with.” Steven Snyder

Outside eyes guide public disclosure. Practice public disclosure privately.

Share your struggle with a mentor or coach and ask for their response. Their eyes expose anger or guilt, expand perspective, and anticipate reactions.


Every disclosure of struggle must include illustrations of progress. Explain how you’re growing. Snyder said, “Don’t share struggles that are raw.” Share fresh struggle privately.


Snyder said, “Sharing the struggle is the beginning of leadership growth.”

Leaders don’t grow until they disclose either privately or publicly.

Successful disclosure facilitates their growth, too. I often share my struggle where growth and development are the focus. Your struggle gives others permission and courage to grow.

Purchase: “Leadership and the Art of the Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow through Challenge and Adversity.”

Free chapter.

What does leadership struggle look like, from your point of view?

How can public disclosure go wrong or right?