The benefits of transparency

Employees want to be a part of a workplace culture that puts a premium on delivering the truth.  They desire their leaders to be proactive in sharing where the company is headed and forthright about its future.   In other words, they just want transparency so they can plan and protect themselves.
–Glenn Llopis

Several years ago I was involved in designing a leadership development program.  Our team easily agreed on the behaviors we wanted to focus on and the key messages we wanted to give, until we got to the topic of trust and transparency.  That topic generated more discussion than any of the others.  We all knew transparency was important, but what does it look like?  How much vulnerability should a leader show?  Is it helpful for leaders to admit when they are uncertain?

The quote above is from an article in Forbes in which Llopis argued that employees want to relate to their leaders on a personal level.  He believes that the benefits of showing your human side as a leader are worth the perceived loss in status or power.  He recommended that leaders make time to connect with their employees in person rather than relying on email. Let them see your challenges and the obstacles you have overcome. Especially among the leadership team, be open about your leadership concerns and challenges.

When leaders are transparent, Llopis believes that the entire organization benefits because:

  1. Problems are solved faster
  2. Teams are built easier
  3. Relationships grow authentically
  4. People trust and respect their leader
  5. Higher levels of performance can be achieved

As my planning team learned, leaders have different comfort levels with showing their human sides.  It can be difficult for us as leaders to trust those around us with our concerns and to invite conversations about the ways our workplaces are less than perfect.  It may seem safer to present a confident public face in spite of challenges we are facing. But, ironically, showing transparency can be one of the best ways to build teams that can work together to achieve lasting results.

Dee Anne Bonebright

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