Transparency. Is this a buzz word? A word to gain trust and loyalty? A word of convenience to deliver bad news (budget cuts, reorganization)?
What does it mean as a leader when you say you are transparent? Do you then give a definition and examples of what you mean? Because your employees may have a completely different definition and set of expectations of you. If you are not on the same page regarding the definition, then saying the word without consistent action can confuse and derail your team.
What’s the Point of Transparency?
“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a
deep sense of insecurity.”
Why be transparent? You can claim to be transparent, as many leaders do, but it won’t get you far. But actual transparency can be a powerful catalyst for transformation and cohesion.
The action of transparency removes barriers and allows for agendas and full information to be shared openly. The powerful result allows for full collaboration and collective decision-making.
I recall being in a meeting and feeling triggered when the word transparency was casually tossed out in an effort to share information that would have a severe impact on the programs I oversee.
To me, the word was used conveniently during that meeting to soften the blow of the timing and information being shared. I remember thinking, “Why use that word now when you haven’t been transparent until this very moment?” I left that meeting with less trust than I had when I entered the room.
In order to be effective, transparency needs to be consistent. When used conveniently, it’s ineffective and makes employees feel the information is only being shared on a “need to know” basis.
Transparency can positively impact the organization in the following ways:
When your team can believe you are always being honest and straight with them, they can trust you to lead them 100%.
- Collaboration and Engagement
A culture of transparency breeds dynamic collectivism. A team can’t be effective when individuals are met with barriers to engagement.
- High Level Thinking around Solution Solving
Transparency is an invitation to your team members to offer up big ideas and solutions to problems facing your department.
- Less Employee turnover
Employees who can trust their leaders and who are encouraged to take an active role in the organization are more productive, happier, and apt to stay put!
How to Be a More Transparent Leader
Transparent leaders value honesty above all else. They are honest when there is good news to share and when there is not-so-good news to share. But, no matter how hard the news might be sometimes, transparent leaders never hide the truth.
Commit to being authentic, always and in all ways.
While most people try and avoid conflict like the proverbial plague, leaders don’t have this ‘luxury’. As a leader, it’s your job to encourage team members to speak up, even if their opinion, idea, or solution conflicts with your own. When someone on your team disagrees with you, get your ego in check quick and listen intently. Feedback, especially in the form of disagreements and conflict, can help shed light and develop an understanding of the situation at hand.
Debra Griffith is an Associate Vice President at San Jose State University| Trainer Facilitator | Strategist | Key Note Speaker | Coach