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?

 

The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2014

There is no such thing as private speaking, and Decker Communications’ 19th Annual Top Ten Best and Worst Communicators list proves it. These famous examples from business, politics, sports and pop culture have left indelible impressions this year – both for better and for worse. Top 10 Best Communicators Breaking … Continue reading

A Real MVP

Before this week, I only knew Kevin Durant as a prolific NBA scorer and a star from the movie Thunderstruck (a family movie that my boys love). After watching his MVP speech, I now feel differently. You may or may not know (or like) Kevin Durant, but your attitude will … Continue reading

Commencement Speech: How to Rock It

As April showers make way for May flowers, graduates prepare to turn their tassels and toss their hats in the air. But what happens first? The commencement speeches, of course! For the grad, leader or educator preparing for a commencement speech, I bring you a special “how to” guide for … Continue reading

Communicating Trust – and the NSA

The NSA blew it, and Ed Snowden changed minds. What a difference communication makes! We were lucky to take part in TED 2014 last week. Of all the ideas shared, the most conversation-spurring topic was privacy: Do we want it? Do we have it? Is it eroding? Are we okay … Continue reading

How to Rock an Acceptance Speech

Every time you speak, you create an experience for your listeners – whether they are your colleagues, kids, PTA or soccer team. In the case of Oscar acceptance speeches, it is no different. What is said and how it’s said combine to create either a this-is-a-great-time-for-a-bathroom-break or a riveting, tear-jerking, … Continue reading

Ring in the Humor

Bobsled. Halfpipe. Hockey. Figure skating and speed skating. Slalom. Ski jumping. Even curling. With 3 young boys in the house, we watched a lot of Olympic coverage this year. My personal favorite moments are always the opening and closing ceremonies, and I was floored at this year’s closing ceremony. Of … Continue reading

Nelson Mandela: Consummate Communicator

“Let there be peace for all. Let there be justice for all. The sun shall never set on such a glorious human achievement.” – Nelson Mandela We join the rest of the world to celebrate the incredible impact and legendary life of Nelson Mandela. While much can be said about … Continue reading

Decline of Eye Contact – And How You Can Correct It

“Just look me in the eye already!” Now that’s a great title from today’s Wall Street Journal article and interview with Sue Shellenbarger. (Great exposure! At the end of the day, the eye contact piece was still ranked #1 in their “Popular Now.”) Here’s the feature. And if you want … Continue reading

Perception Trumps Intention

If you were a billionaire, you’d be an easy target, too. Over the years we’ve admired the communications techniques of Bill Gates (like this incredible visual aid at TED), and we’ve also picked on his behaviors (see: slouching billionaire). Yesterday, Bill Gates went under the microscope again – not for his … Continue reading