When asked which work topics they care most about, most employees will rank transparency in their organization’s leadership near the top of their lists.
Transparency in leadership means keeping employees in the loop, sharing the good and the bad (while not oversharing), and welcoming honest feedback from team members
Leading with transparency requires a willingness to be honest and open with employees, even if doing so makes the leader feel somewhat vulnerable. When employees can see and evaluate everything a leader does, it’s essential that he or she leads the organization with integrity, in ways that are true to its values. In return, employees will give their loyalty and trust.
Transparent leaders are open and honest with their teams. They want their people to have input on important decisions, and that means they need to share information freely so everyone is informed and involved.
That does not mean that transparent leaders tell their team everything, all the time.
How Do You Cultivate Transparency?
Here’s what it takes to be a transparent leader:
1. Be Honest
Being honest is easy when there is good news to share. A transparent leader values honesty above everything else. He practices compassion and empathy to soften the often hurtful truth, but never, ever hides the truth from its people, no matter how hard it is to deliver. As a leader, aspire to be honest in all cases.
2. Be Open And Accessible
Being a leader is hard, as it often involves a lot of criticism. Transparency means you open yourself up to criticism, making yourself vulnerable in favor of the needs of the people you serve.
Always give an opportunity for people to ask questions and be sure to carefully listen. By listening to the people, you earn their respect, while providing an opportunity to mitigate a risk or solve a problem before it’s too late.
3. Ask Questions And Show Interest
The manager of the past was he who knew the most answers. The leaders of the future, are those who ask the most powerful questions.
Your role as a leader is not to know all the answers, but to have access to all the resources that can provide the answers. The transparent leader engages with their people regularly and asks relevant and empowering questions.
4. Confront Difficult Situations
Most people avoid conflict more than anything else. Whenever there is the slightest risk of angering your superior or looking uninformed, most people will keep quiet or say they agree, even though they disagree wholeheartedly.
That means a lot of great ideas lost, a lot of solutions unharnessed, and a lot of unnecessary rework as a result of misunderstandings. Most of all, it means non-committed workers performing unnecessary tasks to keep the peace, often knowing that it’s not in the best interest of the company, but too scared to speak up.
5. Provide Access To Information
The benefits of making information available far outweigh the risks, even though there are indeed risks to take into consideration before deciding whether information should be made readily available or not. The more information you have, the better decisions you are able to make. Being able to make better decisions, on the other hand, leads to less stress.
Be a more transparent leader and have frequent communication sessions with the entire organization, not only the executive team. Allow for questions to be asked, and provide the answers to those questions.
6. Involve People In Decision-Making
The last critical step to building a transparent organization is also one of the most difficult. The question of whether to involve people in decision making or not.
It has been proven in many studies that people involved in decisions are more engaged and committed. It’s not always possible to involve everyone, therefore good judgment is needed, but a transparent leader will always involve people in decision making.
If it is not possible to have a personal discussion with everyone involved, provide a meaningful choice. Never dictate one option only, and don’t give some people options and others not. Be consistent and fair in how you make decisions, and to what degree you involve people in the decision-making process.
So we conclude that one of the key building blocks of functional and successful teams and organizations, is the level of transparency in the organization, and is a transparent leader. Increasing your transparency increases trust, resulting in a more productive workplace.