Lead Better: Through Transparency

Transparency

In a culture where lies overshadow the major bright spots in business, politics and life, we are clamoring for trust. And what is one tool we can use to engender trust? Transparency.

Transparency is intentional openness, accountability and accessible communication. Rather than taking a CYA, protect-and-defend approach, transparent leaders share perspectives, ask for help, demonstrate integrity, share emotions and invite questions.

In business, and even in media, we are clamoring for it at every turn.

A recent WSJ Op-Ed contrasted the approaches of journalists Bob Simon and Brian Williams, concluding, “America is hungry for authenticity and honesty and fiercely resents its absence from places where it should be.”

In his latest podcast, Michael Hyatt identified a lack of transparency as a trait of a lousy leader. When you’re shut off, when you don’t reveal anything, you’re like the Wizard of Oz. Behind a curtain, not telling others what you’re thinking, not sharing any emotion. Instead, when you’re “transparent with the numbers of just financial performance, for example, whether they’re good or bad, people learn to trust you. They learn that you’re going to tell them the truth. You’re not going to try to gloss over or spin the truth,” Hyatt said.

I saw an example of this in action last week. I took a risk and opened up, revealing some details to our team that I wasn’t even sure that I should share – not to the level of detail that I did. But I did anyway. I wanted to be sure they heard the details straight from the top, instead of through the grapevine. The results instigated this blog. Though unexpected, it was met with gratitude and openness.

One team member wrote, “I am blown away by how open and transparent you are — astounded is not too strong a word. Both in my personal work experience and in my work with clients, a note like yours is so rare.”

It’s amazing how a little bit will go a long way. Try it, taste it. I’m not sharing this to pat myself on the back, but rather to expose a bit of vulnerability of my own – with the hopes that it will encourage you to set a tone of transparency, goodwill, honesty and integrity with your team and your company.

For more veteran teammates, who will appreciate the change in tone, as well as for millennials, who more or less expect it, transparency impacts the way you are viewed as a leader and the way people will choose to follow you.

What is an example of transparency – or lack thereof – that recently caught your attention?

 

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