Transparency is not a new leadership issue that people have faced. For years, employees have said that they simply don’t trust their leaders to give them the full story of what’s going on a daily basis. 

The leaders that do break the cycle and become more transparent and authentic in what they do see benefits not only for their team but to their own career as a result. 

The benefits of transparency for yourself and your team

It pays to be transparent with others. The efficiency of the team increases, trust is strengthened, buy-in begins to rise and people are more satisfied in their work. Here are some additional benefits of being transparent in how you lead others. 

Higher employee engagement

A leader that’s honest and open with others, gains a deeper level of trust with those that they work with. Their team and co-workers feel safe, valued and they are much more likely to share candid feedback and insight. 

People are more engaged and bring extra effort when they feel like they have an honest view of what’s going on and are empowered to be transparent and authentic themselves. 

Bringing clear expectations

We’ve talked before about how some people hold knowledge as power over others. As a transparent leader, you freely give out knowledge, updates, and context to others so they have a very clear picture of the current state, a vision of the future state that you are shooting for, and a roadmap of how to get from here to there. 

Survey struggling employees and they’ll often point to lack of clarity and vision as a reason for the team’s ineffectiveness. You’ll likely hear something like:

  • “I don’t know what’s fully expected of me to get the job done.”
  • “I often don’t have all the puzzle pieces (info) to get the task done like leadership is expecting.”
  • “I don’t know what the other group is doing to help us make it to our goal” (Silos)

Hearing a lack of clarity statements, means you’ve opportunities around communication and transparency with others. 

Stronger solutions to problems

Transparency from leaders often generates better problem-solving from the team and stronger solutions to the problems that your team needs to conquer. By being open and honest, people can bring creative solutions to the table that you may not have even considered. 

Tips to be more transparent

Being a transparent leader may push you to the edge, or even past, your comfort zone.  This change may take a more thoughtful approach in how and what you communicate and know that it will take time to permeate into others for their own behavioral change. 

  • Establish an expectation for leaders to be transparent with business developments and decisions. The higher up you go, the more important that this becomes. Be clear in what you expect from others, model it so they can see it in action, and check in to see that it’s being lived out.
  • Know that transparency doesn’t mean oversharing. Sometimes we think that transparency means that we have to tell people everything that is happening behind the scenes of a decision. Know that this is not the case. If there was drama or someone didn’t represent themselves well in a meeting, sharing that with others is not transparency, it’s gossip. Share information without the unnecessary baggage. That baggage dilutes the message and doesn’t reflect well on your own leadership. 
  • Have regular meetings where you share updates about the company, team, and progress on what you’ve been working towards. Thinking back to when COVID first became widespread in the Winter/Spring of 2020, the best companies got out ahead of the uncertainty that was happening and having more consistent updates of the state of the virus, how it impacted the company and what they were doing to address people’s concerns. Transparency is highly valued in times of uncertainty. 
  • Adopt an open-door policy, not just in words but in action. I’ve worked with many organizations that had an open-door policy on paper, but once someone took advantage of the opportunity, they would get in trouble for a variety of confusing and silly reasons. Practice transparency that allows others to connect with you (and your leaders) without fear of political blowback, repercussions, and other consequences. 

Being a transparent leader isn’t always easy. It requires you to be authentic and vulnerable in a way that you may not be fully comfortable with. Embrace transparency in your leadership and see how your team benefits and your own career accelerates as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow.