Transparent leaders leave nothing hidden; consequently, their clarity results in predictability, consistency and trust. ~Kathryn Scanland
I'm participating in a training program in a teleclass format. Last week, as we were all checking-in on the call with the obligatory, "hello, how are you," someone posed the same question back to the trainer. He paused briefly and then responded with "not so well." He had been working on a multi-year project that accidentally got deleted. Fortunately, he had a back-up but it didn't include the previous two weeks of work. So while the majority of the project could be retrieved, the last two weeks of work would have to be recreated. He could have responded with the expected "I’m fine," but chose to simply be honest and transparent.
I have one very specific incident that took place well over 15 years ago that will always stand out in my mind as my ultimate example of just simply being transparent. I had joined a number of friends for Thanksgiving. I should have taken heed to what our cook said before we began the meal, it went something like this, "the turkey looks done but the temperature isn't quite what it’s supposed to be." Well, one by one, we all paid the price for that temperature not being quite what it was supposed to be. The following Monday when I returned to work and someone innocently asked "How was your Thanksgiving?" while passing in the hall, I too paused, and realized I just couldn't put a spin on it or make any positive statement without it feeling like an outright lie. So I responded with, "not so good." My colleague looked at me with surprise and a bit of fear, not knowing what he might hear next. Then I simply said, "bad turkey."
I share this example, which is undoubtedly out of season, because I've often asked myself if the situation really needs to be that extreme for me to simply be transparent?
On Forbes.com Glenn Llopis states: "Being transparent is a powerful thing, if you can trust yourself and be trusted by others. The reason most leaders are not transparent is because they believe they will be viewed as less authoritative; that the credentials they worked so hard to attain will lose their power, leverage and gravitas."
So once we get over ourselves, and release the idea that our gravitas and leverage will suffer and begin to believe that being transparent is more effective than being opaque (the opposite of transparent), powerful things can begin to happen.
If you think about it, it's even logical. If something is transparent, it's clear, there's no guessing, there's nothing left to imaginations, there are no surprises, it feels safe. If it's not transparent then it's opaque. That means it's solid, dense, obscure, unclear, etc. If you walked into a room that was pitch black, would you feel safe? Or, would you feel apprehensive, hesitant, uncertain? You may begin to let your imagine shape reality. That density and obscurity will only make it more difficult for people to follow, so how is that holding onto power?
Don’t be like me. Don’t wait for extreme measures to force you into transparency. Instead, go there willingly and unabashedly and see what powerful things might happen!