We’ve been hearing more and more in leadership about the need for Transparency. This seems like a no-brainer and long overdue. But, this is a difficult task for many leaders. They feel like being transparent will diminish their power or their image or their control. Like many things that are hidden, this comes down fear – fear of what would happen if others knew the details, fear of accountability, fear of failure. During times of high stress, we tend to want to hide our concern, our insecurities and our mistakes. And, who isn’t living in times of high stress these days?
It is human nature to not be transparent about many things – our actual weight, our bad habits (i.e. smoking), and our indiscretions. A lack of openness is usually a sign that something isn’t right. So, get on the treadmill, flush the cigarettes, and end the relationship! At work, increased transparency allows your peers, and your internal and external clients to have the information they need to operate effectively. It Improves relationships and increases employee engagement.
Here are four ways you can be more transparent at work.
1. Openness when we have a concern
This isn’t the time to “go with the flow” when you see something about a strategy or a project that causes you concern. Don’t wait until the situation blows up and then say, “I knew that wasn’t going to work”. In challenging times, we’ve got to have a global view of everything and that includes speaking up when you think a plan might not work.
2. Openness when we have an idea
When we are surrounded by frightening events like reorganization, loss of clients, loss of budgets and layoffs, it is tempting to want to lie low and play it safe. This is your opportunity to be a creative thinker. Alan Alda says, “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk. What you’ll discover will be wonderful”. With all the things that are currently out of our control, one thing we can still direct is our commitment to making a creative contribution.
3. Openness to internal clients and peers
You are probably working harder than you ever have and wondering how you’ll make everything come together. Let your colleagues know what you are facing and how it will impact them. They are facing the same challenges and need to be able to adjust if you aren’t going to be able to meet a deadline or a commitment you’ve made to them.
4. Openness to external clients
The challenges and fears you are facing are also being faced by your clients. Be open with them, not only when things aren’t going well, but also when you are saving them time, money and other resources. Your clients are in desperate need of good news. Be their advocate and help them manage bad news that they’ll have to deliver internally by giving them as much notice and information as possible. And, help them look good to their boss by providing them with positive news when you can.
Warren Bennis says, “I’d always rather err on the side of openness”. Don’t let fear or an overloaded work schedule cause you to be less transparent than you should.
Jane Gentry leverages her experience with Fortune 500 clients to help mid-market companies grow revenue by solving key sales issues like: process, pipeline, leadership, relationship management and hiring. She speaks worldwide on topics about sales growth and leadership. Her clients include companies in manufacturing, medical, professional services and technology.