If you can’t see where you are going, it’s easy to get lost!

Building a successful team requires the core values of trust, respect and transparency.  Today we want to discuss why being transparent as a leader is important and offer some ways on how to improve transparency in your organisation. 

The word transparency suggests that a business runs in an open way, without secrets so people trust their dealings are fair and honest.  As a leader, transparency suggests that you are open, honest, accessible and visible to your team.  The more transparency you have, the more your team will trust and respect you.  In organisations where there is less trust and little respect, you will need more transparency.

The pull for leaders to take their focus from their team and move into more corporate matters is common and, in some cases, justified, but the minute they become less visible and accessible, transparency drops; so how do you find that balance?

Cultivating transparency

Transparency requires a level of vulnerability and the ability to look at yourself critically.  The steps you can take to cultivate transparency are relatively straightforward and simple but practicing them requires courage. 

We think the steps you need to look at are:

Be open, be accessible

Being a leader, whether it is of a small team or a large business, is hard as you will find it can involve personal and professional criticism.

Criticism can be hard to take and easy to ignore!  By being transparent, you have the capacity to open up to criticism and value it as a way of learning how to increase your value as a leader.

By listening and giving people the opportunity to ask questions, you will earn their respect by offering them the chance to solve an issue or lessen a risk.  This takes time so find the best way for you to offer a channel to invite these concerns: it is time worth investing.

Be interested

In your role as a leader you will be well aware you do not know all the answers, and neither should you.  However, you should try to be the leader who engages with their team regularly and can ask relevant questions.  Having or giving access to resources which are deemed helpful will be part of this step.  By being interested, you will be in a position to observe how your team works, their dynamics and where their work happens.  Through observation, you will find you gain a better understanding of any difficulties your team faces.

Be honest

It’s easy to be honest during the good times.  Good financial results, good business growth or promotions within your team are easy to share.  Tough times require just as much honesty.  A transparent leader will value honesty above all else.  With this honesty will come empathy and compassion, but the truth should not be hidden however hard it is to deliver.

This can be tough if you are privy to news which is going to be difficult for others to hear.  If you are uncomfortable responding to questions, it is best not to avoid the subject but just to honestly admit that you do not feel in a position to handle questions.

Involve people

It’s always hard to know when and who to involve in decision making.  It has been proven many times that involving people in making necessary decisions means they are more engaged and committed to projects.  Good judgement will always be needed as to timing and who to involve, but involving people ensures transparency. Striving to be consistent and fair in your decision making and offering clear options helps.

Deal with difficult situations

Pretty much everyone dislikes conflict.  It is the one thing people avoid more than any other. People will keep quiet on matters they wholeheartedly disagree with purely to avoid any conflict.  This behaviour leads to lost ideas or solutions and often brings about misunderstanding and often, increases the need to rework projects.

Most of all, it means you end up with non-committed team members performing unnecessary tasks purely to keep the peace.  Listening helps and listening more carefully to those who disagree with you most helps more.  It raises your understanding and awareness.  Inviting disagreement and conflict in a way which is functional is a key skill for the transparent leader.

Offer information

The more information people have the better decisions they are able to make.  Being in a position to make the best decisions possible leads to less stress and less risk.  Having information results in a higher level of accountability and allows for earlier correction if required – saving time and cost. 

Be a transparent leader by having frequent catch-ups with your teams or organisation and don’t silo your information.  Allow for questions to be asked and offer answers.  Shared repositories help, such as intranets or open files, but ensure the information remains relevant and easy to find.  Nothing is worse than not being able to find the information you need!

There are many reasons why leaders separate themselves from their team members.  It could be that they are afraid of criticism or of being seen as less authoritative.  Maybe they are an introverted character, or it could be that their time is simply used up by all their own tasks and responsibilities. 

Whatever the reasons, it is important to remember that one of the key building blocks of successful and productive teams is a high level of transparency and transparent leaders.

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