Five Behaviors That Create Leadership Transparency

An organization I am working with is having challenges with stakeholders feeling that there is a lack of transparency. There is anger and confusion about information or a lack of information being shared. The result is a community of outspoken individuals who are venting about everything. There isn’t a differentiation between what is critical to think about and what is manageable. As expected, there is an abundance of blame and finger-pointing in addition to a plethora of rumors circulating throughout the institution.

The opposite of transparency is ambiguity. When a team or an organization has ambiguity there is uncertainty and doubtfulness. Stakeholders are not sure of what to believe. There can even be a feeling of unsteadiness and unease which of course can lead to disengagement.

Five behaviors that create leadership transparency:

1. Tell the Truth Even If It Is Upsetting

The first behavior that a leader needs to follow is being honest. Although we may think this is simple, leaders can find themselves sharing bits of information instead of the entire truth. When that happens, stakeholders know that the leader isn’t being totally forthcoming with the facts or message. Team members can feel they are being treated unfairly.

2. Be Credible and Dependable

Credibility is something all leaders should strive to develop because without it they will never be taken seriously. I am often asked in workshops or coaching sessions how can one become credible? There are actually some simple behaviors to incorporate into your leadership.

  • First and foremost, do what you say you will do. When we tell our colleagues we will complete a part of a project, make sure to meet that commitment.
  • If we are asked to attend a meeting, then we need to show up and be present.
  • When our team is struggling to meet a deadline, be there by offering to help.

3. Develop Trust with Others

Never underestimate the value of being a trustworthy leader. Think of team members or bosses who you look up to and I bet there is a great deal of trust between you. How can you develop trust with others? The first behavior is trying to get to know someone on a more personal level. Set up a one-on-one zoom call to learn more about each other. Find out what excites them and what is their pet peeve. When we know more about people we form more trusting connections with them.

4. Communicate with Clarity

A key behavior to create transparency for leaders is to communicate in a clear, open and direct way. Not only will messages be received with openness, but stakeholders will believe in what we are saying. To communicate with clarity:

  • Share complete information and data.
  • Don’t sugarcoat or dilute the facts.
  • Use language that is understandable and as positive as possible. Avoid judgmental words.
  • If on a zoom call use non-verbal cues to connect more successfully like eye contact, smile, warm tone and moderate volume.

5. Be Open to Feedback

If leaders think of feedback as a gift, they will certainly hear the truth. What is the point of getting feedback if we don’t think it will help us lead more effectively? Of course we can ask team members to share their feedback in a kind and respectful way. It is a two-way street. When leaders encourage feedback they build trust and transparency with everyone they connect with.

What behaviors do you use to create leadership transparency?

Related: Four Leadership Lessons Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Us