A Few Thoughts on Leader Transparency

By | March 12, 2015

[March 12, 2015] The recent ruckus over Ms Hillary Clinton’s use of private email to conduct United States official business gives us an opportunity to provide a few senior leader thoughts on leader transparency. Ultimately the email controversy is about transparency; whether a leader is playing by the rules and being open, fair, and honest with the American public.

Failure to be transparent can mean that people see the leader as arrogant and cynical, having a chip on their shoulder, and unresponsive to legitimate concerns. One of the highest priorities to the most successful modern leaders is their concern for people and that trait will never be associated with leaders who are not transparent. 

For the transparent leader the most important issue is how to demonstrate that their decision-making process is available for everyone to see. Lessons from senior leaders show that there are a few methods to staying transparent:

  • Be honest, trustworthy, and open with everyone; always
  • Keep communication lines open and share information
  • Create positive expectations and convey your principles and beliefs to everybody
  • Admit openly when an error is made, learn from it, and move on

The reason that people need to “see” what their leaders are doing is because it provides many benefits and the advantages are numerous. Here are a few:

  • A positive and safe environment emerges
  • Greater performance is achieved
  • Trust is enhanced across the organization and in its leadership
  • Loyalty and respect improves
  • Moral courage is strengthened
  • Networks and relationships are gained and strengthened
  • Unwanted surprises are reduced

Of course, not everything is to be shared. That is obvious, but deserves stating. It is nevertheless important that people know their leaders are working in their best interests; that they are open about the processes they use, the decisions they make, and an honest assessment of the results.

Many citizens today want their leaders to be fair and sincere about it. If we go back just a hundred years, this was certainly not the case anywhere in the world. Strength and the willingness to use force was what was needed. While nations are now far from achieving complete security, circumstances are different and no one faces annihilation – even with ISIS being a threat.

Thus, there exists a higher level of need for our leaders; that need is for them to be transparent in what they do and how they do it.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.